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.


Kai Wright appears in the following:

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: 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. 


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.

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.

Fragility in Liberty

Thursday, February 20, 2020

We travel from Liberty Island to U.S.-Mexico border to discover how the end of Reconstruction and America's present-day immigration crisis are inextricably bound.

Paralysis at the Crossroads

Thursday, February 13, 2020

We talk to voters about their fear of making the wrong decision, and remember an election so consequential it split a major party - and the country - in two.

OTM Presents: U.S. of Anxiety's "40 Acres in Mississippi"

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Our WNYC colleagues fact-check a family legend about "40 acres and a mule," and find a story about the promise and peril of the American Dream at the end of Reconstruction. 

America, Are We Ready? New Hampshire Edition

Monday, February 10, 2020

WNYC's Brian Lehrer and NHPR's Laura Knoy join forces as the polls close in New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary with calls from NH and around the country.

Comments [4]

Two Schools in Marin County

Thursday, February 06, 2020

In the classrooms and town meetings of Marin, California we witness a community grappling with what desegregation and reparations might look like in the 21st century.

The United States of Anxiety: School Desegregation

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Kai Wright, host of The United States of Anxiety from WNYC Studios, joins us to discuss their latest episode, which focuses on the difficulties of school desegregation.


History's Unfinished Business and the 2020 Election

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Kai Wright on unresolved issues in U.S. history, like wealth distribution and racial equity, and their impact on the election.

40 Acres in Mississippi

Thursday, January 30, 2020

We fact check a family legend about "40 acres and a mule," and find a story about the promise and peril of the American Dream at the end of Reconstruction. 

Can We Finally Build a Multiracial Democracy in 2020?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

After the Civil War ended, America set out to build the world's first multiracial democracy. More than 150 years later, we’re still trying to pull it off.

The Stakes' Visit to The Legacy Museum

Friday, January 03, 2020

The Stakes’ host, Kai Wright, and Karen Frillmann, the shows’ executive producer, on their trip to The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration in Montgomery, Alabama.


Buttigieg's Campaign for Black Votes

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Will comparing LGBTQ discrimination to racism take him far?

There Goes the Neighborhood: Miami, Part 3

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Life and loss in Little Haiti, where residents find themselves in the path of a land rush.

The Land Rush

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Life and loss in Little Haiti, where residents find themselves in the path of a land rush.