Brianna Rhodes dancing

The hashtag #OSUDancers4BlackLives is being used to generate support for Black artists in Ohio State’s dance community. Credit: Courtesy of Brianna Rhodes

A reoccurring Tuesday social media post, accompanied by the #OSUDancers4BlackLives hashtag, is looking to increase support for Black artists in Ohio State’s dance community.

The Anti-Racist Working Group, a student-led subgroup operating under the Dancers in Graduate School inside of the Ohio State’s Department of Dance, launched a social media initiative June 15 that highlights Black members of the dance community. 

In coordination with the #BlackoutTuesday hashtag, a new artist is chosen to be recognized on the DiGS Instagram account every Tuesday. Using the #OSUDancers4BlackLives hashtag, the artist is featured for their impact and influence in dance. In a time when racial justice is at the forefront of society, this initiative provides a platform that showcases DiGS’ support of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alex Christmas, Ohio State graduate student and president of DiGS, said. 

The main goals of these posts are to normalize the sharing of Black voices and give credit to these creators by compensating them for their help in shaping the community, Christmas said. Viewers can pay artists in the Instagram post via their Venmo that is linked in the post. 

“We are making sure that we are consistently and unapologetically raising the Black voices that have been ignored for so long,” Christmas said. 

Prior to this initiative, DiGS established a workshop series over the summer to discuss topics such as allyship and racism in dance, Christmas said. It quickly became evident that a new pathway was needed to increase outreach, which led to the creation of the campaign. 

“We wanted to create a co-learning community where anti-racism isn’t just one workshop but an active process that we’re all involved in,” Christmas said. 

The use of dance as a platform has allowed people to look at this type of engagement through an artistic lens, Christmas said. She said this creates a unique perspective that gains the attention of the public. 

“For us, it was not necessarily about being data-driven, but being human-driven through eyes that are focusing on valuing people,” Christmas said. “It was not just about engaging with folks on a transactional level, but caring about the community we are living in at large.”

Brianna Rhodes is the most recently featured artist on their Instagram. Rhodes, an Ohio State alumna who majored in dance studies, said she is appreciative of this initiative and the intentions behind it. As an activist, she said she strives to use her art to speak on issues that she feels need attention.  

“Dance just gives me a platform to use my voice in a way that will reach more people,” Rhodes said. 

A new affinity group model will be implemented in October, with the continuation of the Instagram spotlight posts and workshops every Tuesday and Thursday, Christmas said. The affinity group model will create more intimate conversations with people of similar identities and interests for those who are involved with DiGS. 

Christmas said the group acknowledges its position on campus and believes that the work it is accomplishing will have a larger reach and be more effective in the long run.

“We are starting in our community, in our own backyard, with our own people,” Christmas said. “If larger change happens and ripples out from that, then amazing.”