Looking into our nation's history of discrimination is like peering into the dark, dank basement corners of an old house, author Isabel Wilkerson told a Talking Volumes audience in Minnesota and beyond Tuesday night.

The analogy comes from her new book "Caste," which scrutinizes the country's class divides. 

"I describe our country as being like an old house and we are the inheritors," she told Minnesota Public Radio host Kerri Miller. "Whatever happens from that point forward is in fact your responsibility, so we all are all of us together as Americans as inheritors of this house. ...

"You may not want to go to the basement after a rain ... but if you don’t go into the basement, it’s at your own peril, you’re only hurting yourself, because whatever is going on there, whatever’s happened, you will have to deal with it whether you know it or not."

But there's an obstacle blocking the basement steps, Wilkerson said: "We are not on the same page, in terms of understanding the history of racism in our country."

Click on the video below to see the full interview, and a discussion afterward by Rose Brewer, professor of African American and American Studies at the University of Minnesota, and Star Tribune arts reporter Chris Hewitt.