Ball State SGA president successor says 'battle flag' shouldn't be concerning

The Daily News

Chloe Anagnos answers questions about her future role as president of the Student Government Association during a press conference Wednesday. Anagnos said she owns a Confederate flag, but does not hold racist beliefs. DN PHOTO TAYLOR IRBY
Chloe Anagnos answers questions about her future role as president of the Student Government Association during a press conference Wednesday. Anagnos said she owns a Confederate flag, but does not hold racist beliefs. DN PHOTO TAYLOR IRBY

The future president of the Student Government Association is the owner of a Confederate battle flag and she says the banner — often considered a symbol of racism and slavery — does not reflect her beliefs on diversity.

“I’m not racist, I’ve never been racist,” Chloe Anagnos said. “Most of my best friends are either black or Asian or Hispanic.”

Anagnos will succeed Malachi Randolph, who resigned as SGA president Wednesday after receiving criticism for his denigrating tweets regarding Chinese people a day prior.

Despite recent controversy, Dairick Wade, president of the Black Student Association, said he believes the current board is capable of representing the student body.

“I still have faith in the SGA executive board,” he said. “That will never change, regardless of what happened with Malachi or anything like that.”

Wade, who serves on the board’s cabinet and is friends with Anagnos, said he believes the flag is not necessarily a symbol of racism.

“With some people, it doesn’t stand for Confederacy and white supremacy and all that stuff ...

“I know that [Chloe] is not the person to have those values and those beliefs because she has plenty of African-American friends,” he said. “She has plenty of friends from other races.”

Anagnos said she comes from a diverse background because her father’s family is from Greece.

Though she is from Elkhart, Ind., Anagnos used to spend her summers in Alabama. Her mother is from Texas.

“I was always brought up having a deep appreciation for the South and the history that sometimes isn’t written in textbooks,” she said. “There are actually a lot of groups down south that are working to protect the meaning of that flag, but I believe the [Ku Klux Klan] has taken it — obviously has taken it and turned it into something terrible.”

Anagnos said she considers the banner a matter of regional pride.

“You know, it’s like a seasonal decoration,” she said. “You have it in the summertime when, you know, you hear country music about the South, and ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and all of this good stuff.”

She said this week the flag is at her home in Elkhart.

Anagnos said people have criticized her for owning the flag, and she was even tagged with the nickname “Ku Klux Chloe.”

Though Anagnos understands some people take offense to the flag, she said she feels accusations of racism are unwarranted.

She said her battle flag is different than a Confederate flag because a Confederate flag is missing a star in the center.

“Before you accuse me of being racist or of having flags I don’t have, maybe you should read the history books a little harder,” she said.

Cathy Wright, a curator at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va., said battle flags have variations because different Confederate armies, including the Army of Tennessee and the Army of Northern Virginia, had their own flags. Flags often had subtle variations on the general “stars and bars” theme.

“Each army was supposed to come up with their own battle flag, which is basically whatever design that the general in charge of that army would choose to go with,” she said.

Anagnos said others have displayed the flag, or variations of it, on campus.

“When Luke Bryan or Toby Keith or someone like that comes to concerts here at Ball State, how many girls do you see with Confederate flag – not even battle flags – but Confederate flag belt buckles and guys with bandanas?” she said.

Indiana is not the only state in which debates over the flag occur. In Richmond, Va., community members are speaking out against a group called the Virginia Flaggers. The group plans to fly a battle flag on private property next to Interstate 95.

Mississippi’s state flag still contains the Confederate emblem.

Charlene Alexander, associate provost for diversity at Ball State, said she has witnessed the negative affect a battle flag can have on a person.

“One of my professors when I was in graduate school brought it to my attention, and he was very offended by the presence of the flag at the university that I got my doctoral degree from,” she said. “He felt that, as a male person of color who had to walk in front of that flag every day, it was disturbing to see that flag.”

She acknowledges, though, that the flag has multiple meanings.

“It is important to understand how [the flag] is perceived by others,” she said, “And it is also important for us to have these dialogues to understand both sides of the issue.”

Anagnos said she does not believe owning the flag creates a division between her and students who may be offended.

“I just feel like if it’s one student that maybe would be afraid to approach me, I will take you to lunch,” she said. “Let’s talk. If you are that concerned about it, then maybe you just need to get to know me better on a personal level.”

Despite this and the debate over the meaning of the flag, Anagnos said she intends to keep hers.

“Yes, I have one,” she said. “And I will defend it until the day I die.”

Christopher Stephens contributed to this story.

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