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.

Shows:

Kai Wright appears in the following:

To Protect and Observe: A History

Monday, July 26, 2021

Today’s viral videos of police abuse have a long political lineage. But what if one of the oldest tools of copwatching is now taken away?

The American Story, in Half a Year

Monday, July 19, 2021

2021 began with an insurrection, and it’s remained quietly intense ever since. We open the phones for a six-month check in on the political culture of the Biden era.

The Short Life and Early Death of Voting Rights

Monday, July 12, 2021

Birth, August 1965. Death, July 2021. So now what for multiracial democracy?

Can America Be Redeemed?

Monday, July 05, 2021

Eddie Glaude and Imani Perry consider the question through the work of James Baldwin and Richard Wright. Plus: How our country could enter a period of “post-traumatic growth.”

David Dinkins vs. the NYPD

Monday, June 14, 2021

How NYC’s first Black mayor tried to balance concerns about public safety with demands for a more accountable police force -- and the violent resistance he faced from the police union.

The Dawn of ‘Anti-Racist’ America

Monday, June 07, 2021

Ibram X. Kendi reflects on a shifting political culture -- and the fierce backlash against it. Plus, a remembrance of the 1921 Tulsa massacre.

The ‘Big Bang’ in Jazz History

Monday, May 31, 2021

Composer Jason Moran takes Kai on a musical journey back to 1918, when a group of Black soldiers reinvented American music.

Reflections on the Anniversary of George Floyd's Murder

Thursday, May 27, 2021

WNYC's The United States of Anxiety host Kai Wright joins us for a reflection on the year since George Floyd was murdered. 

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How NYPD ‘Kettled’ the Spirit of Reform

Monday, May 24, 2021

New Yorkers reacted to George Floyd’s murder with mass protests demanding police accountability. NYPD met them with targeted violence and abuse.

F*&% Robert Moses. Let’s Start Over

Monday, May 17, 2021

We’re finally back in the streets -- but are we ready to reimagine how we share public space? This week, a trip through the century-long fight between cars, bikes, and people.

Ma’Khia Bryant’s Story Is Too Familiar

Thursday, May 13, 2021

We failed her long before the cops killed her. We’re failing thousands more children like her now. In this bonus episode, we meet one of those girls.

No More ‘Selfless’ Moms

Monday, May 10, 2021

Erased from history. Ignored in public policy. This Mother’s Day, we ask how to truly value “motherwork.” Plus: The story of one “woke birth.”

The Method to Tucker Carlson’s Madness

Monday, May 03, 2021

History suggests we shouldn’t laugh off what’s happening in right wing media right now. Plus, profiting off of racism is a business model as old as the news.

Do We Need the Police at All?

Monday, April 26, 2021

The answer isn’t simple, but it’s time to ask. Listeners weigh in with stories of their own efforts to solve problems with and without cops.

Why Cops Don’t Change

Monday, April 19, 2021

A retired NYPD detective says the force’s stubborn, insular culture was built to last. And Elie Mystal explains a 1989 Supreme Court ruling that made killing “reasonable.”

Government: A Love-Hate Story

Monday, April 12, 2021

How did Americans come to think so poorly of government? And how did Joe Biden come to be the first modern president who’s even tried to change our minds?

Desegregation By Any Means Necessary

Monday, April 05, 2021

A gun-toting Black Power advocate was made principal of a Marin County, California school during efforts to desegregate 50 years ago. As they try again, we recount his radical legacy.

How to End the Dominion of Men

Monday, March 29, 2021

Andrew Cuomo’s just the latest. Why is masculinity so often conflated with domination? And how do we separate the two? Kai turns to a historian and to a novelist for answers.

The Missing History of Asian America

Monday, March 22, 2021

We’ve been here before: A time of national stress, Asian Americans made into scapegoats, and violence follows. The community saw it coming. So why didn’t everybody else?

Latino Opioid Overdoses Have Been on the Rise. Is the Pandemic Making it Worse?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A federal agency is calling the opioid overdose crisis for Latinos an "urgent" issue. 

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