LBC Homecoming Queen talks about involvement, service and race relations

“I do see the divide on campus, and I do see how my presence on campus is political and the fact that there are a lot of people who don’t want me here or don’t see me fit to participate in Mizzou’s anything … I don’t necessarily feel welcome all the time,
Earl Dunn and Brianna Arps, the Homecoming king and queen of LBC’s 2015 Royalty Court, pose for portraits separately. Courtesy of Earl Dunn/Brianna Arps

The Legion of Black Collegians has given senior Brianna Arps a place to become a leader. As a part of the organization that “personifies black excellence,” she has now been crowned the Homecoming Queen of LBC’s 2015 Royalty Court.

Arps said she loves that LBC personifies black excellence and includes students in Homecoming traditions who she feels normally would not be included.

“There’s black student unions and such, but we are the only student government in the nation, and that is so important because it’s showing our leadership: that we are leaders and that we have a vision and that we are focused in that vision and that we are able to enact change,” Arps said.

Arps attributes these skills to the mentorship of a former chair of the Freshman Action Team, in which Arps was an executive member, to guiding her as a new LBC participant.

“(My mentor) helped me to understand that you don’t have to be a certain something to be a leader,” Arps said. “It’s just using the skills that you have to have an influence on people. She recognized that I like to talk, and so she helped me hone that skill to draw other freshmen into the Freshman Action Team and ultimately to LBC in general, so she’s played a big role.”

Service is a big part of Arps’ life. Through her involvement in SPEAK Community Theater as the public relations co-chair, she combines her creative skills to prompt students for social change.

“We go in high schools and we talk to them about things that aren’t normally talked about, such as bullying, self-love, self-care, and we do it in a way that engages them with any type of art,” Arps said.

She is also a radio host for KCOU and a member of the Griffiths Leadership Society for Women, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars at Mizzou Collegiate Scholars, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the National Association of Black Journalists.

Arps is a journalism major with a magazine writing emphasis and a black studies minor. The minor has allowed her to learn more about herself through learning about her heritage and past racial issues.

Her first class was an African-American history class taught by Keona Ervin, who has had a great influence on Arps.

“Ever since then, she’s inspired me to want to get to know a little bit more about my heritage and where I came from and how black studies really matters and how everyone can learn from black studies,” Arps said.

She said black people are “resilient” by overcoming repeated adversities throughout history.

“We are powerful beyond measure because of that resiliency,” Arps said. “Being a black studies minor, I’ve learned to love myself in more ways than I ever thought. It’s interesting to see how far we’ve overcome and although there is so much more to do, it’s awesome to see that if my ancestors can persist through certain things, then so can I.”

Arps was not at practice for the play “The Mis-Educated” when the act of racism occurred at Traditions Plaza the morning of Oct 5. At around 1 a.m., an intoxicated man used racial slurs against the royalty candidates while on stage.

Other students have been targeted more directly than Arps has personally experienced, but she still sees the presence of discrimination on campus.

“I do see the divide on campus, and I do see how my presence on campus is political and the fact that there are a lot of people who don’t want me here,” Arps said. “I don’t necessarily feel welcome all the time.”

She said she recognizes the importance of students speaking out against discrimination on campus.

“Whether that’s demonstrations, letters to administration or tweets or whatever it may be, I recognize that there is a need, and I am glad that there are those who are fulfilling that need to help combat those –isms present on campus,” Arps said.

As for next year, Arps looks forward to beginning her career and hopefully moving to New York City. She worked as a marketing intern at Time Inc. last summer.

In her career, Arps said that service will continue to be a big part of her life.

“I think that when everyday I’m in whatever office I’m in, and I’m serving people, I hope that I remember the leadership skills that MU and LBC specifically have taught me,” Arps said. “And that is to serve others through whatever you’re doing and put other people first. I hope that that is something that I continue to remember no matter what.”

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