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 Method to Tucker Carlson’s Madness

Monday, May 03, 2021

History suggests we shouldn’t laugh off what’s happening in right wing media right now. Plus, profiting off of racism is a business model as old as the news.

Do We Need the Police at All?

Monday, April 26, 2021

The answer isn’t simple, but it’s time to ask. Listeners weigh in with stories of their own efforts to solve problems with and without cops.

Why Cops Don’t Change

Monday, April 19, 2021

A retired NYPD detective says the force’s stubborn, insular culture was built to last. And Elie Mystal explains a 1989 Supreme Court ruling that made killing “reasonable.”

Government: A Love-Hate Story

Monday, April 12, 2021

How did Americans come to think so poorly of government? And how did Joe Biden come to be the first modern president who’s even tried to change our minds?

Desegregation By Any Means Necessary

Monday, April 05, 2021

A gun-toting Black Power advocate was made principal of a Marin County, California school during efforts to desegregate 50 years ago. As they try again, we recount his radical legacy.

How to End the Dominion of Men

Monday, March 29, 2021

Andrew Cuomo’s just the latest. Why is masculinity so often conflated with domination? And how do we separate the two? Kai turns to a historian and to a novelist for answers.

The Missing History of Asian America

Monday, March 22, 2021

We’ve been here before: A time of national stress, Asian Americans made into scapegoats, and violence follows. The community saw it coming. So why didn’t everybody else?

Local Leaders Step Up to Improve Vaccine Access for Communities of Color

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Many trusted community leaders have taken it upon themselves to share information about the vaccine and help people in their communities schedule vaccination appointments.


Latino Opioid Overdoses Have Been on the Rise. Is the Pandemic Making it Worse?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

A federal agency is calling the opioid overdose crisis for Latinos an "urgent" issue. 


Republican Lawmakers in Texas Attempt to Reduce Access to Voting

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Lawmakers in Texas have introduced a number of bills that would make it harder to vote.  


Artists Weigh Benefits and Risks of Return to Live Performances

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The return of live shows raises some public health concerns, but if done safely, it could make a huge difference to many artists who have been out of work for much of the past year. 


Why We Ask Women to Create Safety Rather Than Eradicating Male Violence

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Most women are brought up to take precautions to avoid violence when walking alone, but we rarely focus on eradicating the male behavior that makes streets unsafe.


The Powerful Blame "Cancel Culture" to Deflect Responsibility

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has joined a long line of politicians and celebrities who have invoked the idea of “cancel culture” as a defense against allegations of misconduct. 


Deb Haaland Confirmed As Interior Secretary. What Does This Mean for Tribal Communities?

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Deb Haaland is the first Native American cabinet secretary in U.S. history. 


Collective Loss, Collective Care

Monday, March 15, 2021

We’re looking back at a year with Covid-19 to reflect on our tremendous losses and the remarkable ways communities have come together to take care of themselves.

Has Hollywood Finally Begun to Recognize Asian and Asian American Talent?

Monday, March 15, 2021

Asian and Asian American Actors have long been overlooked when it comes to awards season in the United States.  


America Are We Ready for the First 100 Days?: Halfway There

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Join the national conversation Thursday nights during Biden's first 100 days.  This week: The president's prime-time address with analysis from Susan Page, Kai Wright and callers.

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Capitalism vs. Time

Monday, March 08, 2021

As Amazon workers conclude a historic unionization drive, we consider the history of collective action -- and the struggle to shield our humanity from the demands of productivity.

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.