Map of U.S. States during Civil War
Southern history, as Sokol describes, is impossible to face without acknowledging Jim Crow, slavery, and the post-war reconstruction period. Yet, this same introspection and critique is never applied to the history of the North, a history that includes school segregation, race riots, open discrimination both by law and by fact, and evident most recently with the death of Eric Garner, bouts of police brutality.
To continually ignore the realities of race in the North, is to not only offer a misguided view of history, but to perpetuate the unnecessary and unproductive North/South socio-political dichotomy. Since the days of the first colonizers, the South has always occupied a unique cultural and political space- one that has often drastically differed from the identity of the North. In many ways this divide has deepened since the Civil War- just this week for example, all Democratic Senate seats were expelled from the region, making the South entirely Republican represented, while the North remains connected to the Democratic party.
How can we properly address Northern history? How do we confront the ways in which the North was complicit in slavery and thus in the residual structural inequities that slavery procured? Will confronting American history from a holistic view instead of a geographic view, help mitigate the division between North and South?