Kai Wright

Host & Managing Editor, The United States of Anxiety

Kai Wright is host and managing editor of The United States of Anxiety, a podcast about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future, produced by WNYC Studios.

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:

Juneteenth, an Unfinished Business

Friday, June 26, 2020

As the nation grapples with a reckoning, we pause to celebrate Juneteenth. Our holiday special, for Black liberation and the ongoing birth of the United States.

Rage, Grief, Joy

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Something has been pushed to the surface that can no longer be repressed. And it’s transforming everything— from what we tolerate politically to how we mourn those we’ve lost.

'Community' Is a Verb. And It’s Hard

Friday, June 12, 2020

People all over the country are stepping up to make change. But as they do, they face challenges that go beyond Covid-19 and police violence. Two stories, from Chicago and New York City.

Keeping Released Prisoners Safe and Sane

Thursday, June 04, 2020

What if we release prisoners with no one to help them? We follow a psychiatrist and social worker as they try to find and support mentally ill inmates being released during a pandemic.

Kai Wright on WNYC's 'America: Are We Ready' Call-In Special

Monday, June 01, 2020

Kai Wright on WNYC and Minnesota Public Radio's national call in special, 'America: Are We Ready: A National Call-In About Racism, Violence, and Our Future Together.' 

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'I Did Not Watch the Video'

Thursday, May 21, 2020

In the aftermath of Ahmaud Arbery’s killing, Kai calls up "Friday Black" author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah to reflect on love, loss... and American zombies.

My Dad is An Essential Worker

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

As Covid-19 has hits black communities uniquely hard, here's how one essential worker is coping during the pandemic.

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The Life and Work of Ida B. Wells

Friday, May 08, 2020

Here's the story of investigative journalist and activist Ida B. Wells, who's courageous anti-lynching work just received a Pulitzer Prize.

Inside the Prison Pandemic

Friday, May 01, 2020

There are roughly 2.3 million people in jails and prisons. They can’t socially distance. They can barely wash their hands. So now what?

Why Covid-19 Is Killing Black People

Friday, April 24, 2020

The pandemic has hit black communities uniquely hard. To understand why, we explore how racism shows up in black bodies — all the way down to the cellular level.

Questions to Ask While Waiting

Monday, April 13, 2020

Many of us are bracing for the changes Covid-19 will bring, including to our relationships. So reporter Jenny Casas turned to Benji Hart’s poem as a tool for connecting with one another.

A History of Style in a Pandemic

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Here’s how black women in Chicago used lace and jewels to turn their mandatory face masks into works of art, more than 100 years ago.

Dispatches from People Stranded in Place

Friday, April 03, 2020

From the homeless in San Francisco to immigration detention centers, here's how the response to Covid-19 is undermined by choices that have little to do with healthcare.

Keep Calm and Check Your Bias

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Research shows that racism and other prejudices are most acute when the stakes are high, so Kai talks with Dr. Gail Christopher about how to control for that reality, during a pandemic.

Last Chance at Justice

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Salah Hasan Nusaif al-Ejaili knows the atrocities that can be committed during a time of crisis. Seventeen years after the American invasion of Iraq, he's still trying to get justice.

Alone Together During COVID-19: Live Call-in

Friday, March 13, 2020

The coronavirus has turned our thoughts back to anxiety. In this bonus episode, Kai Wright teams up with Anna Sale to take listener calls, and to talk about people are coping.

Alone Together: A COVID-19 Call-In

Friday, March 13, 2020

Your calls about how the coronavirus is impacting your life, your relationships, and your plans—and how you're coping with it all. 

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Black Power at the Polls

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Liberal politics have relied on the same coalition for 160 years. But do black people have any real power in that alliance? Kai Wright and Rashad Robinson discuss presence versus power.

Keeping White Power at the Polls

Thursday, March 05, 2020

We present: What Next, a daily podcast from Slate. In this special episode, our friends at What Next share a story about a radical new voter suppression plan.

A Secret Meeting in South Bend

Thursday, February 27, 2020

We speak to descendants of the Great Migration in South Bend, Indiana about their family stories of housing in the “heartland,” and inequity in home ownership today.