Kai Wright

Host & Managing Editor, The United States of Anxiety

Kai Wright is host and managing editor of The United States of Anxiety, a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future. The show airs live on WNYC, Sundays at 6p eastern.

The Atlantic hailed the show as one of the “The Best Podcasts of 2018,” declaring that it “has always been able to swiftly explain current events through the lens of the past.”

In addition, Wright was the host of WNYC Studios’ other limited edition podcasts with social justice themes: The Stakes, There Goes the Neighborhood, and Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, which was honored with an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. He also served as one of the hosts of Indivisible, a national live radio call-in show that WNYC convened during the first 100 days of the Trump Administration to invite Americans to come together across divides.

Wright’s journalism has focused on social, racial, and economic justice throughout his career. Formerly, he was an editor at The Nation and the editorial director of Colorlines. As a fellow of Type Investigations, he covered economic inequality, access to healthcare, and racial inequity. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Mother Jones, and Salon, among other outlets, and his broadcast appearances include MSNBC and NPR. Wright is the author of Drifting Toward Love: Black, Brown, Gay and Coming of Age on the Streets of New York, as well as two surveys of black American history.


Kai Wright appears in the following:

The History Behind New Waves of Anti-Trans Legislation

Monday, March 20, 2023

State lawmakers across the country are introducing new waves of legislation targeting the transgender community. What’s behind this movement? 

The Rocky Statue: A Famous Monument to a Fictitious Hero

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Why do millions of people from around the world flock to Philadelphia, PA, to visit a statue….of a fictional character? We ask Paul Farber, host of the WHYY podcast The Statue.

Revising History, One Monument at a Time

Monday, March 13, 2023

Artist Michelle Browder lives in a city that is increasingly being altered by monumental works…including one she created herself.

Preserving Untold Oral Histories

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Our national story comprises all of us. We hear stories from listeners and The HistoryMakers founder Julieanna Richardson that capture the living history that often goes unmentioned.

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Hollywood

Monday, March 06, 2023

We continue our Black History Is Now series with Gina Prince-Bythewood, director of the hit films “The Woman King” and “Love & Basketball,” among others that center Black voices.

Celebrating Terrance McKnight’s ‘Every Voice’ Podcast

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Terrance McKnight, evening host on WQXR, unearths the hidden voices that shape our musical traditions in the new podcast "Every Voice with Terrance McKnight.” 

How Respectability Politics Erased Young Women From History

Monday, February 27, 2023

We mark the end of Black History Month with a conversation about the people who are too often left out when we celebrate the past. 

Black History Is Now: How Misty Copeland Went From Different to Special

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Continuing our Black History Month series, ballet sensation Misty Copeland shares her journey to believing she was special.

The Battle Over Black Studies

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Black studies is not about inclusion. It’s about disruption – which is why some fear it.

How Black People Remade Mississippi

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Down in the Mississippi Delta, the Lester Family made a space for themselves and claimed their land–and they didn’t need “40 Acres and a mule” to do it. 

American Political Myths Have Consequences For Us All

Thursday, February 09, 2023

From the “Southern Strategy” to the civil rights movement, we’re surfacing what is true about our nation’s past, and what is propaganda masquerading as history.

The People's State Of The Union

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Brian Lehrer hosts a conversation ahead of President Biden's State of the Union speech, in which listeners describe what they'd like to hear prioritized. 


Black Music’s Most Memorable Moments With Emil Wilbekin

Monday, February 06, 2023

In the spirit of the Grammys, Emil Wilbekin, a founding editor of VIBE, offers a first-person history of Black popular music, from Soul Train to Beyoncé.

Putting An End To Toxic Cop Culture

Thursday, February 02, 2023

When it comes to police reform, a retired NYPD detective argues that policing as a profession must evolve or go away completely. 

History On Repeat: The Killing Of Tyre Nichols

Monday, January 30, 2023

The release of brutal footage of the killing of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols by police officers in Memphis furthers an all-too-familiar conversation about accountability and police violence.

Monterey Park: The Making of America’s First Suburban Chinatown

Thursday, January 26, 2023

A mass shooting in Monterey Park, California – on the eve of Lunar New Year – sent shockwaves through the majority Asian American ethnoburb and the Asian American community nationwide.

Your Estrangement Calls Answered Live

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Anna Sale and WNYC’s Kai Wright co-hosted a live call-in show about dealing with estrangement. Plus, we get advice from a therapist.


Living With And Learning From Estrangement

Monday, January 23, 2023

Estrangement isn’t linear. For those who have severed ties or been cut off, it can be necessary, empowering, devastating and confounding—all at once. 

The Not-So-Sunny Side of Louis Armstrong’s Legacy

Thursday, January 19, 2023

What made Louis Armstrong’s music so groundbreaking? And after he broke that ground, why were later generations of Black people reluctant to embrace him? 

The Legacy of MLK Jr. Is To Be Young, Gifted and Black

Monday, January 16, 2023

How does Martin Luther King Jr.’s generation of young, gifted, and Black people inspire today’s changemakers and their ideas for how to achieve racial justice?