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:

The Wolf Pack of White Nationalism

Monday, May 23, 2022

There are no “lone wolves” in the terrorist violence of white identity politics. So what’s that mean for white people who want to confront it?

Somebody, Sing a Black Girl’s Song

Monday, May 16, 2022

An intergenerational meditation on Ntozake Shange’s iconic Broadway play, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf."

Justice Alito Said the Quiet Part Out Loud

Monday, May 09, 2022

His leaked opinion tells us more about a powerful minority’s view of the U.S. than it does about the Constitution or the history of abortion.

The Abortion Clinic That Won't Go Quietly

Thursday, May 05, 2022

A broken democracy. A Supreme Court showdown. And a group of Alabama women who continue to provide care despite it all.

Voters to Democrats: Get a Spine!

Monday, May 02, 2022

Michigan State Sen. Mallory McMorrow and The Nation Magazine’s John Nichols explain how the Democrats can fight – and win – the culture wars. 

Kai Wright Introduces Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery

Friday, April 29, 2022

Kai Wright talks with WNYC colleague Nancy Solomon about her new podcast: Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery.

They Dumped Trump for Biden. Now What?

Monday, April 25, 2022

Plus, a follow up to our episode on names and identities: One trans woman’s story of finding her name, and fighting to have it respected.

A Historian's Guide to the 2022 Midterm Elections

Monday, April 18, 2022

We never resolved the core political debates that emerged from the Civil War. And they remain the fundamental  debates of this year’s elections. 

The Dangerous Cycle of Fear

Monday, April 11, 2022

Asian American New Yorkers explain how Covid-era violence changed their lives, and what’s at stake for everybody when we fear each other. Then, rediscovering community through food.

The End of Institutions: Hollywood Edition

Monday, April 04, 2022

A slap at the Oscars tarnished Will Smith’s legacy. What about him did Hollywood treasure? Is this institution just a screen for projecting our own social anxieties and cultural debate?

Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Black Patriotism

Monday, March 28, 2022

Plus, a National Geographic explorer’s story of diving for sunken slave ships.

How "Bich" Became “Beth” – An American Tale

Monday, March 21, 2022

What’s in a name? A lot. A listener's voicemail inspired us to explore the sometimes complicated relationship between our names and our racial and ethnic identities.

People Feel Unsafe–and It’s More Than Crime

Monday, March 14, 2022

The social fabric is torn. People nationwide are scared, some going so far as to arm themselves. What can we learn from our history as we react to this fear? 

Why the ‘Reagan Regime’ Endures

Monday, March 07, 2022

Presidencies are rarely transformational, and neither Biden nor Trump have lived up to their supporters’ dreams. So what does it take to really change our politics?

Brian Lehrer on Productive Discourse

Monday, February 28, 2022

Democracy won’t work if we can’t talk to each other. So how do we do have conversations across cultural and political divides?

Why So Many Are Stuck in the “Other” Box

Monday, February 21, 2022

The U.S. Census named “some other race” as the second-largest racial group in the U.S. Mona Chalabi talks us through the data, and the stakes, of that statistic.

Black People Are From Outer Space

Monday, February 14, 2022

Afrofuturism is an old idea that’s reaching new people. We travel from Seneca Village to Wakanda, from Sun Ra to Lil Nas X as we learn this cosmic vision of Black freedom.

David Byrne on Musical Democracy

Thursday, February 10, 2022

The former Talking Heads frontman explores the challenges – and beauties – of human connection while breaking down his hit Broadway show, American Utopia. 

How to Avoid the ‘Affirmative Action’ Ploy

Monday, February 07, 2022

Biden vowed to finally put a Black woman to the Supreme Court. President and CEO of the National Women's Law Center Fatima Goss Graves, Court scholar Elie Mystal, and listeners react.

Revisiting Nothing You Do Alone Will Save the Climate

Monday, January 31, 2022

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.