01/13/2011 09:01 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Arianna On Tavis Smiley's 'America's Next Chapter' Forum (VIDEO)

Arianna appeared on Tavis Smiley's highly anticipated forum "America's Next Chapter" to discuss our country's future with fellow thought leaders Cornel West, David Brody, and others.

When asked by Smiley to juxtapose premise of her book, Third World America, with our nation's potential for greatness, she discussed her own experiences coming to this country in contrast to the situation many Americans face today.

"As an immigrant to this country...I'm acutely aware of how we're losing the American Dream, because I lived it. And now the idea of upward mobility has become really impossible for millions of Americans," she said. "The middle class is at the heart of any First World country. If we lose our middle class, as we're in danger of doing right now, we do become Third World America."

She continued with some jarring statistics about the state of the nation, including the fact that 100 million Americans are worse off today than parents were and that we rank tenth in upward mobility after many European countries.

"To be behind France in upward mobility would be as if France were behind us in croissants and afternoon sex," she said.

But Arianna believes there's hope for us yet. "Ultimately, I believe in this incredible American character, this incredible American compassion that we see expressed all around the country in our small communities," she said. "We just need to scale it, accelerate it, and make it part of our everyday lives."

Check out forum highlights below.