Scholar Eddie S. Glaude Jr. says starry-eyed Americans who now say they want equality will NEVER achieve it ... without accepting the truth about the country's roots in racism.
Glaude -- an author and Professor of African-American Studies at Princeton -- joined "TMZ Live" Tuesday to address the major problem with our nation's history ... essentially, that it's not told honestly.
The professor cites several examples of systemic racism and injustices that are far more recent than slavery, yet are sugar-coated or downright omitted when teaching Americans about their past.
Glaude says it all manifests itself even today in something he calls the "value gap" ... which is the belief that white people are more important than others.
Again, he points to specific things happening right now that make him feel that "value gap" still isn't being addressed -- and believes that will crush any progress toward racial equality.
The good news ... Glaude believes there's positive momentum along with the Black Lives Matter movement, and offers a James Baldwin quote about hope that sums it up perfectly.
Speaking of Baldwin, Glaude's new book about the author and activist's struggle and how it relates to modern-day America, "Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own," is available now.