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:

Actor Daniel Kaluuya’s Road to Revolutionary

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Kai talks to the “Judas and the Black Messiah” star about his award-winning portrayal of Fred Hampton and the legacy of the Black Panther Party.

The Secret Tapes of a Suburban Drug War

Monday, March 01, 2021

A cop in Westchester, NY, was disturbed by what he saw as corruption. He started recording his colleagues -- and revealed how we’re all still living with the excess of the war on drugs.

Blackness (Un)interrupted

Monday, February 22, 2021

Our Future of Black History series concludes with conversations about self-expression. Because when you carry a collective history in your identity, it can be hard to find yourself.

The Case Against Those ‘Tubman $20s’

Thursday, February 18, 2021

People are excited to replace Andrew Jackson’s face with an abolitionist hero. But Dr. Brittney Cooper argues not all honorifics are the same.

Addressing White Supremacy After Trump

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

What happens to white supremacy in America without Trump in the White House?

Impeachment: Catharsis and Impunity

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Senate’s trial and acquittal of Donald Trump left many with mixed emotions. But did it move us any closer to a reckoning with the worst of America’s political culture?

The ‘Beautiful Experiments’ Left Out of Black History

Monday, February 08, 2021

Saidiya Hartman introduces Kai to the young women whose radical lives were obscured by respectability politics, in the second installment of our Future of Black History series.

The Role of Black History Month in Black Lives

Thursday, February 04, 2021

United States of Anxiety's Kai Wright and Veralyn Williams talk about their feelings around Black History Month -- skepticism and enthusiasm, respectively, and its origins.

The Origin Story of Black History Month

Monday, February 01, 2021

We’ve got complicated relationships with this annual celebration -- from joy to frustration. So to launch our Future of Black History series, we ask how it began and what it can be.

New Hopes, Old Fears

Monday, January 25, 2021

Kai checks in with poet Jericho Brown, historian Kidada Williams, and listeners as we all try to transition out of the Trump presidency.

Life After Fascism: A Brief History

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Historian Timothy Snyder offers lessons on what could happen if those who enabled the attack on our democracy don’t face consequences.

Biden Proposes Sweeping Immigration Reform

Thursday, January 21, 2021

After his inauguration, President Joe Biden sent a piece of immigration reform legislation to Congress that would give roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship. 


Is the Biden Administration Ready to Tackle Systemic Racism?

Thursday, January 21, 2021

On Wednesday afternoon, Joe Biden became the first president in U.S. history to denounce white supremacy in an inaugural address. 


America Are We Ready for the First 100 Days?: Equity

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Join the national conversation Thursday evenings during the first 100 days of the Biden administration.  This week: Can the Biden administration produce both unity and social justice?

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Call-In with Kai Wright on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Monday, January 18, 2021

Kai Wright on the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6.


How Martin Luther King, Jr., Changed American Christianity

Monday, January 18, 2021

And what MLK’s uniquely Black theology can teach us about the relationship between faith and politics in 2021.

The American Story, in a Single Day

Monday, January 11, 2021

January 6, 2021, offered a hyper-condensed version of our country’s entire political history--with all of its complexity, inspiration, and terror.

The (Un)Making of a ‘Model Minority’

Monday, January 04, 2021

An odd racial pecking order puts Indian Americans in a curious place -- outside of whiteness, but distinct from other people of color. How’d that come to be? And is it changing?

America Are We Ready To Reconcile?

Monday, January 04, 2021

Brian Lehrer hosts a national conversation on overcoming polarization as the Congressional count of Electoral Votes is disrupted by violence.

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Lessons From a Year in Isolation

Monday, December 28, 2020

A first draft of history for 2020, told through three very personal efforts to find -- and keep -- human connection amid a pandemic.