"Racism is a very serious problem in the United States": Noam Chomsky discusses slavery in the U.S.

The scholar discusses how slavery is "the core of our history" but "but it’s not part of our consciousness"

Published March 4, 2015 4:53PM (EST)

  (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-781327p1.html'>fotostory</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(fotostory via Shutterstock)

Renowned scholar and political activist Noam Chomsky sat down with Democracy Now and discussed political movements and United States' relationship with its history of slavery.

In the video, which was uploaded to Democracy Now on Tuesday, Host Amy Goodman brought up 50th anniversary of Selma Bloody Sunday, which is March 7. Goodman asked Chomsky if political movements -- including Black Lives Matter, the anti-austerity movement in Europe and climate change related movements -- could "coalesce"?

"They should," Chomsky replied. "But in actual fact, the degree of coalescence is not high. We should remember that—take Selma. If you listen to the rhetoric on Martin Luther King Day, it’s instructive. It typically ends with the 'I Have a Dream' speech and the voting rights. And Martin Luther King didn’t stop there."

Chomsky went on to explain that Martin Luther King Jr. condemned the Vietnam war, and went on to attempt to organize a "poor people's movement" and march about class issues when he was assassinated -- yet this is often forgotten in his legacy.

"Racism is a very serious problem in the United States," Chomsky continued in a slightly different vein. He pointed out America's fraught relationship with its history of slavery -- one where Americans don't want to acknowledge that wealth, power and privilege were derived from the torture of a people on what Chomsky refers to as "slave labor camps."

"Is there a slave museum in the United States?" Chomsky asks. "Actually, the first one is just being established now by private—some private donor. I mean, this is the core of our history, along with the extermination or expulsion of the native population, but it’s not part of our consciousness. "

Video of the discussion can be found below via Democracy Now. This particular part of the interview can be found at the 47 minute mark, and a transcript can be found here.

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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History Noam Chomsky Racism Slavery Video