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:

Making it in New York: The Eric Adams Story

Monday, October 25, 2021

In just two weeks, New Yorkers could elect Eric Adams, making him the city’s second-ever Black mayor. What does his story tell us about the ways race and power have evolved in NYC?

What’s Wrong With the NFL?

Monday, October 18, 2021

Football is a big part of community and culture in the U.S. But as the NFL confronts another scandal involving racism, misogyny, and homophobia: how should fans respond?

San Francisco Program Intends to Make Jury Pools More Diverse

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

A bill intended to create a more diverse jury pool is on its way to being implemented at the start of 2022.


The True Story of Critical Race Theory

Monday, October 11, 2021

Is racism a permanent fixture of society? Jelani Cobb, staff writer for The New Yorker, unravels the history of Derrick Bell’s quest to answer that question.

Hear No Evil: Asylum Policy in America

Monday, October 04, 2021

Displaced Haitians are still seeking safe harbor. But the U.S. long ago abandoned the ideal that all migrants should at least be allowed to tell their stories.

Art That Matters

Monday, September 27, 2021

The fall season is here. Can the creative work that’s been made during the pandemic, and that’s going to be made now, help us move forward together?

As the Climate Crisis Intensifies, A Conversation on How to Act

Thursday, September 23, 2021

While individual actions still matter, we're past the point where eating vegan and flying less can turn things around. So how do we make change on a meaningful scale?


Nothing You Do Alone Will Save the Climate

Monday, September 20, 2021

New science finds we’ve got less than a decade to avoid catastrophe. Activist and author Bill McKibben says the only solutions that can beat that deadline are collective.

A 9/12 Story: ‘I Forgot I Was a Muslim Kid’

Monday, September 13, 2021

Aymann Ismail reflects on his journey through a post-9/11 America, and how the state reminded him who he was. Plus, we meet the creators of Broadway’s ‘Come From Away.’

The Legacy of Abu Ghraib

Friday, September 10, 2021

One man’s ongoing effort to get justice for the abuse he endured at a U.S. prison in Iraq.

Maybe We Just Want Less ‘Work’

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

The “Great Resignation” appears to be a real thing. But why? We ask workers what they really want. Plus, 45 questions to help us understand each other, and ourselves.

How Zillow Explains Education Inequity

Monday, August 30, 2021

Hundred year old school buildings. Sputtering HVAC systems. Covid revealed a legacy of racism that’s built into the physical infrastructure of education.

The Man, the Myth, the Manipulation

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Why do we equate macho bullying with competent leadership? The cautionary tale of Andrew Cuomo.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Haiti and International Aid

Monday, August 23, 2021

Haiti’s recent tragedies revives a conversation about disaster, aid, and how people recover. Then, a discussion about perspective on the 30th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots.

Affirmative Action: Truths and Lies

Monday, August 16, 2021

“Reverse racism” has haunted the fight for job equity for generations. How’d this bizarre idea become such a bugbear? One Supreme Court case, 50 years ago helps explain.

What the Olympics Taught Us About Us

Monday, August 09, 2021

If sports are a metaphor for life, what are they telling us about our society right now?

‘Ethical People Can Be Effective’

Monday, August 02, 2021

Remembering the life of Bob Moses, and his mission to build a more equitable America from the bottom up.

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?