The United States of Anxiety

The United States of Anxiety is a show about the unfinished business of our history, and its grip on our future. Each week, host Kai Wright invites listeners to gather for intimate conversations and deeply reported stories about the choices we’ve made as a society -- and the new choices we can imagine now. We’re learning from our past, meeting our neighbors, and sharing the joy (and the work!) of living in a plural society. Our inbox is also open for your voice memos—send them to anxiety@wn...more


  • Monkeypox: The Making of an Outbreak

    Aug 15 2022

    Host Kai Wright speaks with Joseph Osmundson, microbiologist, activist, writer, professor at New York University, and author of Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between (W. W. Norton & Company, 2022). They welcome listener questions about the state of the monkeypox outbreak, and the polarizing narrative surrounding the LGBT communities that the virus is disproportionately affecting.  A special thanks to Kali, Michael, Justin, Larry and Daniel – LGBT communit...more

  • Michael Calvert’s Good, Too Short Life

    Aug 12 2022

    What can we learn from the HIV pandemic? We revisit a conversation from a year of living with COVID-19. Back at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, senior editor, Karen Frillmann was reminded of life in this city in the 1980s. She reached back into the far corners of a closet in her apartment, and dug out a recording that she made decades ago. In this segment, Karen shares parts of that intimate conversation, as an act of remembrance. Companion listening for this episode: What Could Go Wrong? E...more

  • What Could Go Wrong? Everything (And It’s Ok)

    Aug 08 2022

    What zombie movies can teach us about our era of perpetual crisis, and other lessons from a disaster management specialist. Former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security under President Obama, and current professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Juliette Kayyem joins host Kai Wright to help us make sense of our current age of constant disasters. Learn what tools we have at our disposal based on her new book, The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters. Companio...more

  • Michael Tubbs Has A Message for All Of US

    Aug 05 2022

    In 2020, Michael Tubbs lost his reelection campaign after capturing the nation’s attention. But he hopes the lessons he learned can inspire future generations of local leaders. Find out more about End Poverty in California on their website.  Companion listening for this episode: How to Start Saving the World (8/1/2022)Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe has a simple request for the 93 percent who know there’s a crisis: Talk to each other about it more and start with your values. *And stream our S...more

  • How to Start Saving the World

    Aug 01 2022

    Scientist Katharine Hayhoe has a simple request for the 93 percent of people who know there’s a climate crisis: Talk to each other about it more and start with your values. Plus, producer Regina de Heer is joined by members of the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions to hear how these ideals are put into practice on a local level. Find more in Professor Hayhoe’s bestselling book, Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World and her Global Weirding series on Youtu...more

  • How Are We Grieving?

    Jul 28 2022

    Two mothers lost their daughters to gun violence but received disparate levels of attention. Now, they’re using their stories – and their grief – to inspire others. WNYC correspondent Tracie Hunte introduces host Kai Wright to two mothers – Nelba Márquez-Greene and Celeste Fulcher – who both lost their daughters to gun violence. Their stories teach us about the exacting toll of gun violence, and the power grief yields to stir change and inspire progress. Companion listening for this episode: The...more

  • The Culture of Gun Violence

    Jul 25 2022

    Host Kai Wright speaks with Nina Vinik, Founder and Executive Director of Project Unloaded about the culture of gun violence in our country and why that must change to make any political progress on gun control.  How can we reduce gun violence, and has there been progress on that front since the shooting in Sandy Hook? Plus, ​​Marie Delus, New York State Survivor Lead of Moms Demand Action, redefines what it means to be a survivor of gun violence.  *Find our Summer Spotify playlist from the prev...more

  • Let Us Take You on an Pop Escapade

    Jul 21 2022

    Joy. Freedom. Resilience. We kick off a summer playlist project with Danyel Smith's selections from the Black women who have defined pop. From Phillis Wheatley to Beyoncé, read more about Danyel’s picks in her new book, Shine Bright: A Very Personal History of Black Women in Pop. Playlist curation will begin this Sunday, so record a voice memo with your playlist recommendation (and the story that inspired it) and email it to anxiety@wnyc.org to have your song included. *Starting this week, we a...more

  • Jason Reynolds Needs to Be Useful

    Jul 18 2022

    The YA author talks about his successes, fears, and his new podcast that explores his relationship with his mother. Hear more from Jason Reynolds in Radiotopia Presents: My Mother Made Me.  *Starting this week, we are publishing individual segments from each live episode. Check back later this week for another segment talking about our summer playlist.  Companion listening for this episode: Lynn Nottage: Unexpected Optimist (1/3/2022) Playwright Lynn Nottage breaks down her remarkable career and...more

  • The Promise and Failure of Cryptocurrency

    Jul 11 2022

    Cryptocurrency promised to democratize the financial world by giving people equal access to banking tools. It has potential, but also a long way to go. Guest host and senior digital producer Kousha Navidar takes calls and speaks with fintech policy expert Scott Astrada about the value and pitfalls of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether and Dogecoin. Then, Dr. Kortney Ziegler from Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society speaks about empowering communities the traditional banking...more

  • The Line Between Independence and Insurrection

    Jul 04 2022

    Decoding the Jan. 6th Insurrection – what we should have learned from the past and what we must remember for the future. This Independence Day weekend, host Kai Wright is joined by Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, who previously hosted Trump Inc. They discuss their new 8-part podcast series, Will Be Wild, which examines the forces that led to the January 6 Insurrection and what comes next.  Companion listening for this episode: Can America Be Redeemed? (7/5/2021) Eddie Glaude and Imani Perry c...more

  • Keeping Score: Part 4

    Jun 30 2022

    The series ends with a final test for the Jaguars at the city championship. After the final point has been scored, members of the team try to assess their success. And what about the success of the merger? Students and coaches look at how the integration played out across John Jay’s athletics program, and ask: was it all worth it? “Keeping Score” is a co-production of WNYC Studios and The Bell. This four-part series will appear in the United States of Anxiety feed on Thursdays in June.  Connect ...more

  • Roe Is Gone. What Now?

    Jun 27 2022

    Plus, a reflection on the significance of LGBT Pride in a scary political time for the community.  Host Kai Wright and listeners react to the recent SCOTUS decisions, including the fall of Roe v. Wade. Hear Dr. Sanithia Williams from Alabama Women’s Clinic, and her experience as a provider in one of the 13 states with trigger laws; Elie Mystal, justice correspondent at The Nation; and Imara Jones, the creator of TransLash media.  Companion listening for this episode: The Abortion Clinic That Won...more

  • Keeping Score: Part 3

    Jun 23 2022

    What does it mean to lead a team in an anti-racist way? After getting strong feedback from Mariah and other players, Coach Mike Salak decides to change his tactics. But as the girls volleyball practices lead into tournaments, it’s clear that who gets to play continues to be a divisive issue.  “Keeping Score” is a co-production of WNYC Studios and The Bell. This four-part series will appear in the United States of Anxiety feed on Thursdays in June.  Connect with us at keepingscore@wnyc.org. For W...more

  • Why Juneteenth? Let’s Ask Black Texas

    Jun 20 2022

    On this national live call-in special: The history. The party. The food. Black Texans school us on the holiday they created. This Juneteenth, host Kai Wright is joined by Pulitzer-Prize winning historian and Harvard law professor, Annette Gordon-Reed, to break down the history behind the newest federal holiday, and help take calls from Black Texans about what it means to them. Plus, Ms. Opal Lee, retired teacher, counselor and activist known as the "grandmother of Juneteenth," checks in as she's...more

  • Keeping Score: Part 2

    Jun 16 2022

    Mariah Morgan, a junior at Park Slope Collegiate and setter on the girls varsity volleyball team, was an early proponent of the merger – she helped lobby for it as a member of the Campus Council. But her optimism is tested when practice starts. To understand the building’s complicated history, she explores how Millennium came to be at John Jay in the first place, and why the campaign to merge the athletics programs began. “Keeping Score” is a co-production of WNYC Studios and The Bell. This four...more

  • Why We Can't (and Shouldn't) Move On From Jan. 6

    Jun 13 2022

    Why We Can't (and Shouldn't) Move On From Jan. 6. Fordham University political science professor, Christina Greer, joins to takes our politics questions on the hearings and more. Plus, the story of 91-year-old artist Faith Ringgold, as told by her daughter. Companion listening for this episode: A Conservative View of the Vigilante Right (1/24/2022) Mona Charen discusses the true meaning of conservative and the radical shift in the GOP. Then, a listener mailbag begs us to explore how "normal peop...more

  • Keeping Score: Part 1

    Jun 09 2022

    The John Jay Educational Campus, a large brick building in Park Slope, Brooklyn, houses four high schools: Cyberarts Studio Academy, the Secondary School for Law, Millennium Brooklyn, and Park Slope Collegiate. Each school is its own separate universe, but the students yearn to connect. When the administration announces that the athletics programs will merge, they ask what it will take for the building to live up to its new motto: “We Are One.” “Keeping Score” is a co-production of WNYC Studios...more

  • Schools Had a Tough Year. What’d We Learn?

    Jun 06 2022

    Schools Had a Tough Year. What’d We Learn? Plus, follow the season of a girl’s varsity volleyball team, and find one Brooklyn school building’s effort to bridge its stark racial divide. From WNYC’s new miniseries, Keeping Score. The past year has forced public classrooms into the center of our country’s intense culture wars and political debates, from Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to Critical Race Theory, to the ever-present threat of gun violence. What do these fights mean about the future ov...more

  • Alice Walker Is Very Happy, A Lot of the Time

    May 30 2022

    After publishing 34 books, Alice Walker talks through her latest release, a collection of personal journals spanning four decades. Read more in Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker, 1965–2000, out now.  Companion listening for this episode: Lynn Nottage: Unexpected Optimist (1/3/2022) Playwright Lynn Nottage breaks down her remarkable career and shares how, as an optimist at heart, she finds the light and resilience in unexpected stories. “The United States of Anxiety” air...more

  • The Wolf Pack of White Nationalism

    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? First, assistant secretary for homeland security under President Obama and current professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Juliette Kayyem, joins host Kai Wright to help us make sense of the moment with tools from her new book, The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters. Read her article for The Atlantic in response to th...more

  • Somebody, Sing a Black Girl’s Song

    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. First, host Kai Wright and producer speak with the director and choreographer of the current Broadway Revival, Camille A. Brown. Then, performers Trazana Beverley, Aku Kadogo, and Carol Maillard reminisce on the original production and with the show's legendary creator, Ntozake Shange.  Companion listening for this episode: Lynn Nottage: Unexpected Op...more

  • Justice Alito Said the Quiet Part Out Loud

    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. Kai Wright talks to Susan Matthews,  news director at Slate and host of the upcoming season of Slow Burn: Roe v. Wade, “The Constitution Wasn't Written for Women.” And Michele Goodwin, a Chancellor's Professor at the University of California, Irvine, joins Kai to open the phones to your questions and emotional reactions to this frightening but galvanizing ...more

  • The Abortion Clinic That Won't Go Quietly

    May 05 2022

    In 2018, host Kai Wright visited the Alabama Women’s Center in Huntsville, to learn how abortion providers were dealing with the state’s new law that sought to make their practice a felony crime. The law was one of several that Republican controlled states passed in an effort to provoke a Supreme Court ruling on Roe.  A leak of Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion in a separate case suggests the Court is now poised to overturn the constitutional right to an abortion.  So we revisit this 2018 sto...more

  • Voters to Democrats: Get a Spine!

    May 02 2022

    Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow and The Nation Magazine’s John Nichols explain how the Democrats can fight – and win – the culture wars. Plus, listeners weigh in with how they would like the party to proceed. Watch State Senator McMorrow’s speech here. Then, read John’s article in reaction to the speech here.  Companion listening for this episode: How the Right’s Anti-Trans Hate Machine Works (5/28/2021)Last year, guest More than 100 anti-Trans bills have been introduced across 30 states...more

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

    Apr 29 2022

    Kai Wright talks with WNYC colleague Nancy Solomon about her new podcast: Dead End: A New Jersey Political Murder Mystery New Jersey politics is not for the faint of heart. But the brutal killing of John and Joyce Sheridan, a prominent couple with personal ties to three governors, shocks even the most cynical operatives. The mystery surrounding the crime sends their son on a quest for truth. Dead End is a story of crime and corruption at the highest levels of society in the Garden State. “The Un...more

  • They Dumped Trump for Biden. Now What?

    Apr 25 2022

    Voters who switched from Trump to Biden in 2020 are headed to the polls again, and former GOP strategist Sarah Longwell wants to know what they’re thinking. Longwell is executive director of the Republican Accountability Project and publisher of The Bulwark, where she hosts The Focus Group podcast. She’s convening an ongoing series of focus groups with voters, including “flippers” who ditched Trump in 2020. What are they thinking as they head into primary elections for this year’s midterms? Then...more

  • A Historian's Guide to the 2022 Midterm Elections

    Apr 18 2022

    As the country confronts racial tensions and class conflicts, it begs the question: How did we get here? We look back to a moment in history when our country was struggling to become a true, multiracial democracy -- meeting a lot of roadblocks, many of which persist today. Historian Eric Foner gives us a primer on the Reconstruction Era amendments that we explored in season four, as producer Veralyn Williams rides along to help us make sense of what it means today and how we can move forward as ...more

  • The Dangerous Cycle of Fear

    Apr 11 2022

    Host Kai Wright attends a free self defense class hosted in partnership between The Alicia and Jason Lee Foundation and University Settlement, and meets the instructor. Read more about the effort’s mission here. Then, he speaks with Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation, which works with nonprofits to support the pan-Asian community. What’s the economic and social cost of hate crime on Asian American communities? What are the uncomfortable – yet crucial –  tensions betw...more

  • The End of Institutions: Hollywood Edition

    Apr 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? Culture critic Soraya McDonald joins to take a deeper look  at the roles Hollywood allows us to play, on screen and off. Plus, breaking down the exhausting reaction to Pixar’s defiantly Asian film, Turning Red, with Jeff Yang, the co-author of Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now. Read Je...more

  • Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Black Patriotism

    Mar 28 2022

    The Senate’s questioning of Ketanji Brown Jackson revealed where she might fit in the history, and future, of the Supreme Court. Host Kai Wright is joined by Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law at New York University, Melissa Murray, to discuss. Plus, a National Geographic explorer’s story of diving for sunken slave ships. Companion listening for this episode: Can America Be Redeemed? (7/5/2021) Eddie Glaude and Imani Perry consider the question through the work of James Baldwin and R...more

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

    Mar 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. Host Kai Wright is joined by novelist Beth Nguyen to discuss her personal journey when it comes to her name, and invited callers to share their own stories. Check out Beth’s article for The New Yorker: America Ruined My Name For Me.  Companion listening for this episode: Why So Many Are Stuck in the “Other” Box (2/21/2022) The episo...more

  • People Feel Unsafe–and It’s More Than Crime

    Mar 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? Scholar James Forman Jr., author of the book Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, helps break down what’s real, vs perception, about the rise in violent crime. Plus, a conversation with Nina Jankowicz, author of How to be a Woman Online: Surviving Abuse and Harassment, and How to Fight Back, about how to make the inter...more

  • Why the ‘Reagan Regime’ Endures

    Mar 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? Host Kai Wright is joined by political theorist Corey Robin to confront that question, and take your calls about Biden’s first year in office. Companion listening for this episode: Government: A Love-Hate Story (4/12/2021) How did Americans come to think so poorly of the government? And how did Joe Biden come to be the first modern p...more

  • Brian Lehrer on Productive Discourse

    Feb 28 2022

    Democracy won’t work if we can’t talk to each other. So how do we do it across the cultural and political divides? WNYC’s own Brian Lehrer has hosted his syndicated show for over 30 years. Find out how a Raegan-era repeal changed the course of his career. Companion listening for this episode: The Method to Tucker Carlson’s Madness (5/3/2021) 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...more

  • Why So Many Are Stuck in the “Other” Box

    Feb 21 2022

    U.S. Census data found that more people are choosing "some other race" when asked to self-identify. It reveals just how complicated identity is, especially when it comes to race. Data journalist Mona Chalabi talks us through the data, and the stakes, of that statistic. Plus we hear from people around New York City who live outside of the Black-white binary, as they share their stories.   Companion listening for this episode: This Land Is My Land, That Land Is Your Land (10/6/2016) One thing poli...more

  • Black People Are From Outer Space

    Feb 14 2022

    Afrofuturism is an old idea that’s reaching new people. This Black History Month, we travel from Seneca Village to Wakanda, from Sun Ra to Lil Nas X as we learn this cosmic vision of Black freedom, directly from the culture makers propelling the movement. Academy Award winning production designer and lead curator of the Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hannah Beachler (Creed, Moonlight, Beyoncé's Lemonade, Black Panther, and more), tel...more

  • David Byrne on Musical Democracy

    Feb 10 2022

    The former Talking Heads frontman explores the various challenges – and beauties – of human connection while breaking down his hit Broadway show, American Utopia. David Byrne's American Utopia is running at Broadway's St. James Theater through early April. You can also stream the filmed version, directed by Spike Lee, on HBO Max.  Companion listening for this episode: Lynn Nottage: Unexpected Optimist (1/3/2022) Playwright Lynn Nottage breaks down her remarkable career and shares how, as an opti...more

  • How to Avoid the ‘Affirmative Action’ Ploy

    Feb 07 2022

    Biden’s vow to finally appoint a Black woman to the Supreme Court has ignited a debate before a nomination has even materialized. How do you fight for representation, without getting stuck in the tired old debate over “affirmative action?” Hear reactions from President and CEO of the National Women's Law Center Fatima Goss Graves, Court scholar Elie Mystal, and listeners.   Companion listening for this episode: A Court On The Edge (9/21/2020) After the passing of the late Justice Ruth Bader Gins...more

  • Revisiting Nothing You Do Alone Will Save the Climate

    Jan 31 2022

    New science finds we’ve got less than a decade to avoid climate catastrophe. Activist and author Bill McKibben says the only solutions that can beat that deadline are collective. Host Kai Wright invites listeners to ask McKibben their own climate questions, on the heels of a United Nations report that declared the damage from carbon and methane emissions at our current rate will be irreversible by 2030. What can we do that will make enough change, quickly enough?  Companion listening for this ep...more

  • A Conservative View of the Vigilante Right

    Jan 24 2022

    Mona Charen discusses the true meaning of conservative and the radical shift in the GOP. Plus, she helps take your calls. Then, a listener mailbag begs us to explore how "normal people" became part of the Jan 6. attack. Host Kai Wright and senior digital producer Kousha Navidar spoke with Seamus Hughes, Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, to learn more.  Companion listening for this episode: Episode 1: How Did We Get Here and Where Are We Going? (9/22/201...more

  • A History of Voter Suppression

    Jan 20 2022

    As recent voting rights legislation struggles to even get a vote in the Senate, we revisit a conversation with historian Dr. Carol Anderson about how American voters, particularly Black Americans, had fought and continue to fight for their right to participate in the democratic process - safely and with certainty that their votes will count. Dr. Anderson is a Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and author of several books including “White Rage: The Un...more

  • Is Love the Most Transformative Political Act?

    Jan 18 2022

    This MLK Weekend, Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis helps us understand the potential of love in our politics. Then, hear from a student participating in a hunger strike for voting rights. What is it like putting your body on the line when your own Senator is the person standing in the way? Arizona State University sophomore, Michaela Schillinger, takes us through the process of organizing a strike while balancing school, meeting with legislators like Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and a surprising update as t...more

  • How to Spot the End of Democracy

    Jan 10 2022

    On a scale of 1-10, how anxious are you about the state of our democracy? Kai considers when democracy is past its tipping point with New York Times columnist Thomas Edsall. Plus callers tell us how anxious they are about the state of our democracy. Then is the right better at the internet than the left? Senior producer Kousha Navidar reports back. Companion listening for this episode: The Supreme Court v. Our Rights (12/6/2021) Another year of the SCOTUS is coming to a close. But can we still t...more

  • Lynn Nottage: Unexpected Optimist

    Jan 03 2022

    Two-time Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage (Ruined, Sweat, Clyde’s) breaks down her remarkable career and shares how, as an optimist at heart, she finds the light and resilience in unexpected stories. Plus, she tells host Kai Wright about her hopes for the future of theater and her interest in making the medium accessible and meeting people where they are. Companion listening for this episode: Can America Be Redeemed? (7/5/2021) Eddie Glaude and Imani Perry consider the question thr...more

  • What Does Black Ambition Sound Like?

    Dec 27 2021

    James Reese Europe was already famous when he enlisted to fight in World War I. But the band he took to the frontlines — as part of the famous 369th Infantry Regiment, also known as the Harlem Hellfighters — thurst him, and Black American music, onto the global stage. Moran sits down at the piano to show Kai how Europe’s band changed music, and how jazz carries the resilient sound of Black history and ambition in America.  Companion listening for this episode: The ‘Beautiful Experiments’ Left Ou...more

  • Face the Darkness, Welcome the Light

    Dec 20 2021

    Do you need a revival?  On the longest night of the year, join us to celebrate Yalda, a poetic Persian tradition. Then, a conversation about those we’ve lost with jazz and gospel artist Gregory Porter. Here’s the translation of the Hafez poem read by Armen Davoudian at the end of our show: Ghazal 43 (Hafez) The orchard charms our hearts, and chatter when our dearest friends appear – is sweet; God bless the time of roses! To drink our wine among the roses here – is sweet! Our souls’ scent sweeten...more

  • Talking About Racism Is an Act of Love

    Dec 16 2021

    Three men — White, Black, and Asian — discuss the nuances of identity that divide this country. A bonus episode, introducing a new podcast we love: “Some of My Best Friends Are…” Our host Kai Wright talks with Khalil Gibran Muhammed about the new show. And we share an episode in which Khalil and Ben Austen, two best friends who grew up together on the South Side of Chicago in '80s, talk with New York Times journalist and author Jay Caspian Kang about his new memoir, The Loneliest Americans, and ...more

  • A Year of Performing Humanity, Reviewed

    Dec 13 2021

    A.O. Scott, co-chief film critic of the New York Times, helps us review the year in culture. What can we learn about our struggling effort to live together from this year’s art? Then, a conversation with WQXR’s Terrance McKnight about the life and legacy of famed contralto, Marian Anderson. The List Here’s a crowd-sourced list of 2021’s defining art gathered from listeners and our guest. If you have a suggestion tweet us at #USofAnxiety.   Film InsidePassingThe Closer   Television Squid Game   M...more

  • The Supreme Court v. Our Rights

    Dec 06 2021

    Another year of The Supreme Court of the United States is coming to a close. But can we still trust our nine appointed justices to be the final arbiters of the law?. Co-hosts of the Boom! Lawyered podcast, Jessica Mason Pieklo and Imani Gandy, join Kai Wright to answer those questions and more from our listeners about Dobbs v. Jackson and the impact of abortion rights on the U.S. Plus, results from our audience experiment to see how platforms on the Internet shape the content we consume.  Compan...more

  • An Anti-Racism Refresher

    Nov 29 2021

    Anti-racist work snuck into the mainstream last year. But ever since, it’s received a huge backlash. Why, and what did right-wing media have to gain? This week, Kai revisits two conversations: First, with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of five best-selling books including How to Be an Antiracist, about what anti-racism really means. Then, Dr. Nicole Hemmer, author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics, explains how right wing media serves -- and s...more

  • The Myth of a ‘United’ States

    Nov 22 2021

    History shows that our country’s actually been divided from the start. If secession is in our DNA, what’s keeping us together? Should we just break up already? Kai talks with author Richard Kreitner about his book, “Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union.” Plus, a look at how the Internet and the “Filter Bubble” contribute to our isolation today. Stick around for an exercise you can do when the divide gets real at the Thanksgiving table. Companion l...more

  • Promises to Help the Climate Keep Breaking

    Nov 15 2021

    Who’s breaking them, and why? Coming off of COP26, we talk to journalists Elizabeth Kolbert and David Wallace-Wells about the real cost of the climate crisis and who is paying the price. Learn about climate reparations, hear answers to listener questions, and discover what’s left for us to try to move forward as a global society. Plus, revisit the history of the 1992 Earth Summit that we discuss in the episode: https://www.wnycstudios.org/podcasts/anxiety/episodes/united-states-of-anxiety-seaso...more

  • Fired at 59: Lessons on Job Insecurity in the U.S.

    Nov 08 2021

    Broadcast journalist Ray Suarez was 59 when he lost a dream job that took decades to reach. What he did next reveals a harsh reality of class blindness and the consequences of job insecurity in the U.S. His experience inspired a new podcast that “gives voice to people who have lost jobs, lost their homes, and sometimes lost the narrative thread of their lives.” He joins host Kai Wright to preview his story and helps take calls from our listeners.  Listen to Going for Broke With Ray Suarez, a new...more

  • How the Dead Still Speak to Us

    Nov 01 2021

    This Halloween, we reveal the holiday’s often untold history and why connecting to the dead is important to so many people, from Ireland, to Mexico, to NYC. What about this time of year lowers the veil between the living and the dead, and what does this universal desire to connect with those who’ve passed teach us about ourselves? Plus, make sure to listen to the end for a conversation with award-winning psychic medium Betsy LeFae, host of the podcast Trust Yourself. She leads Kai through a guid...more

  • Making it in New York: The Eric Adams Story

    Oct 25 2021

    In just two weeks, New Yorkers could elect Eric Adams, making him the city’s second-ever Black mayor. What does his rise through civil service tell us about the ways race and power have evolved in the nation’s largest city? Hear from Errol Louis, one of New York's longest-serving political journalists, about how Adams's story is part of a much broader history of Black politics -- a story that began in a Brooklyn church, some 50 years ago. Companion listening for this episode: 'Community' Is a V...more

  • What’s Wrong With the NFL?

    Oct 18 2021

    Jon Gruden, a star coach in the NFL, recently resigned from the Las Vegas Raiders. A sexual harassment investigation within a separate part of the league surfaced old emails in which Gruden used homophobic, racist, and misogynistic language. Scandals like these – driven by men in positions of power – have plagued the sport and the league for decades. But what does this mean for fans who just want to enjoy the game? When a sport is a crucial part of a person’s community and culture, should bigotr...more

  • The True Story of Critical Race Theory

    Oct 11 2021

    Is racism a permanent fixture of society? Host Kai Wright is joined by Jelani Cobb, staff writer for The New Yorker, to unravel the history of Derrick Bell’s quest to answer that question and how it led to our present debate over critical race theory.  Companion listening for this episode: The Method to Tucker Carlson’s Madness (5/3/2021) 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. “...more

  • Hear No Evil: Asylum Policy in America

    Oct 04 2021

    Displaced Haitians are still seeking safe harbor. But the U.S. long ago abandoned the ideal that all migrants should at least be allowed to tell their stories. Host Kai Wright is joined by globally recognized immigrant rights advocate and professor at Columbia Law School, Elora Mukherjee, to break down asylum. When refugees arrive, how do we respond, and how are we all implicated in that choice? Companion listening for this episode: Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Haiti and International Aid (8/23/2021) Ha...more

  • Art That Matters

    Sep 27 2021

    The fall season is here. A season of new shows on television, art in museums, and musicals on Broadway. Can the creative work that’s been made during the pandemic, and that’s going to be made now, help us move forward together? Host Kai Wright takes calls from listeners with bestselling author and senior culture editor at ESPN's The Undefeated, Morgan Jerkins. Then, we revisit a conversation with Ashley C. Ford about a piece of art that we’re still thinking about, the HBO series Lovecraft Countr...more

  • Nothing You Do Alone Will Save the Climate

    Sep 20 2021

    New science finds we’ve got less than a decade to avoid climate catastrophe. Activist and author Bill McKibben says the only solutions that can beat that deadline are collective. Host Kai Wright invites listeners to ask McKibben their own climate questions, on the heels of a United Nations report that declared the damage from carbon and methane emissions at our current rate will be irreversible by 2030. What can we do that will make enough change, quickly enough?  Companion listening for this ep...more

  • A 9/12 Story: ‘I Forgot I Was a Muslim Kid’

    Sep 13 2021

    How did September 11, 2001, and its aftermath, affect the way anyone perceived as Muslim, and those around them, fit inside the American experiment? Host Kai Wright is joined by award winning journalist Aymann Ismail, who talks about his post-9/11 childhood in northern New Jersey -- and what he learned about his identity as an adult. Then, a conversation about diversity, healing, and growth, with Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the co-creators of the Tony Award-winning show Come From Away. A filme...more

  • The Legacy of Abu Ghraib

    Sep 10 2021

    One man’s ongoing effort to get justice for the abuse he endured at a U.S. prison in Iraq.  At the start of the Iraq War in 2003, Salah Hasan Nusaif al-Ejaili was working as a journalist when the U.S. military detained him inside Abu Ghraib, a prison that would become notorious for American abuses committed in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Only a handful of people were ever held responsible—all of them military personnel. But the private contractors who oversaw interrogations...more

  • Maybe We Just Want Less ‘Work’

    Sep 07 2021

    The “Great Resignation” appears to be a real thing. But why? We ask workers what they really want. Plus, 45 questions to help us understand each other, and ourselves.  Recent research shows that for a lot of us, our relationship with work has evolved greatly through this ongoing pandemic.  In our Labor Day episode, journalist Sarah Jaffe, author of the book Work Won’t Love You Back, returns to the show to explore what’s changing, and why. Plus, we hear from listeners about what they want -- and ...more

  • How Zillow Explains Education Inequity

    Aug 30 2021

    Hundred year old school buildings. Sputtering HVAC systems. Covid revealed a legacy of racism that’s built into the physical infrastructure of education.  A lack of investment in school buildings determines who can safely go back and who can't. But if we all pay taxes, why is our public school system full of inequality and inequity? Kai speaks with reporters Bracey Harris and Meredith Kolodner, who break down the Hechinger Report’s shocking findings on the safety of school buildings across the c...more

  • The Man, the Myth, the Manipulation

    Aug 25 2021

    Why do we equate macho bullying with competent leadership? The cautionary tale of Andrew Cuomo.  From sexual harassment to intimating deemed rivals, the list of accusations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have crescendoed into a long awaited resignation. But what kind of leader do we value? What makes a competent leader -- and why are we so often looking for a new hero? Kai explores these questions with Zephyr Teachout, Associate Law Professor at Fordham Law School, who challenged Cuomo i...more

  • Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Haiti and International Aid

    Aug 23 2021

     Haiti’s recent tragedies revive a conversation about disaster, aid, and how people recover. Then, a discussion about perspective on the 30th anniversary of the Crown Heights riots. After a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti’s southwestern region, many of us were left wondering -- what does it mean to best support Haiti through disaster? And if the global community has donated so much humanitarian aid to prevent devastation, why does it keep happening? Is Haiti cursed? Guest host Nadege Green...more

  • Affirmative Action: Truths and Lies

    Aug 16 2021

    Originally Aired: 11/23/2020 “Reverse racism” has haunted the fight for job equity for generations. How’d this bizarre idea become such a bugbear? One Supreme Court case, 50 years ago helps explain.  This week, our reporter Marianne McCune tells the story of that case -- and its aftermath -- to help explain why the American workplace is still so segregated. It’s the story of an affirmative action program at an aluminum plant on the banks of the Mississippi River. Marianne introduces us to a Blac...more

  • What the Olympics Taught Us About Us

    Aug 09 2021

    If sports are a metaphor for life, what are they telling us about our society right now? Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, and author of ten books on the politics of sports, joins Kai to talk about the “Pandemic Games,” the peril of chasing perfection, and just how much has changed since the 2020 summer of activism in big league sports. Plus, the hard conversation so many of us are avoiding: Executive producer Veralyn Williams gets advice from WNYC’s health and science editor Nsikan Akpa...more

  • ‘Ethical People Can Be Effective’

    Aug 02 2021

    Remembering the life of Bob Moses, and his mission to build a more equitable America from the bottom up.  From teaching in New York City to registering Black voters in the 1960’s Mississippi, Moses was a measured man who believed leadership was about listening, not talking. Rutgers University Professor of African American Studies Charles M. Payne joins us to recap Moses' life’s work -- and his big ideas, from Freedom Summer to a radical education initiative that’s still used in schools today.  C...more

  • To Protect and Observe: A History

    Jul 26 2021

    Today’s viral videos of police abuse have a long political lineage. But what if one of the oldest tools of copwatching is now taken away? Ron Wilkins takes us back to 1966, in the wake of the Watts uprising, in which he joined an early cop watch program -- one that would inspire the likes of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Then, reporter Jenny Casas introduces us to journalists and activists who have been using police scanners for decades to peek inside the infamously closed world of p...more

  • The American Story, in Half a Year

    Jul 19 2021

    2021 began with an insurrection, and it’s remained quietly intense ever since. We open the phones for a six-month check in on the political culture of the Biden era. Kai is joined by Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, to unpack all that has — and hasn’t — happened this year. Did the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol really fail? What does the victory of Eric Adams in New York City say about the state of Black politics -- and the Democratic Party? And why ...more

  • The Short Life and Early Death of Voting Rights

    Jul 12 2021

    Birth, August 1965. Death, July 2021. So now what for multiracial democracy? Mark Joseph Stern, who covers the Supreme Court for Slate, explains how the Roberts Court has rewritten the Voting Rights Act to render it a dead letter law. We explore what, if anything, can be done to revive it. And Kai talks with Vann Newkirk II, a senior editor at The Atlantic, about a recent essay in which he tracks the legacy and impact of the Voting Rights Act alongside his family’s history in Mississippi. Influe...more

  • Can America Be Redeemed?

    Jul 05 2021

    Eddie Glaude and Imani Perry consider the question through the work of James Baldwin and Richard Wright. Plus: How our country could enter a period of “post-traumatic growth.” The two professors of African-American Studies at Princeton talk with each other about the impact of James Baldwin and Richard Wright’s work — on their own intellectuality and creativity, and that of the Black American zeitgeist at large and the harrowing relevance of their work as it echoes into the issues of today.  Late...more

  • How the Right’s Anti-Trans Hate Machine Works

    Jun 28 2021

    More than 100 anti-Trans bills have been introduced across 30 states since January. We find out what’s happening — both in the courts and in society — and what still needs to be done.  Executive Producer Veralyn Williams guest-hosts this week and is joined by journalist and media-maker Imara Jones of TransLash to discuss her work to elevate Trans stories and the inner workings of what she calls in her new podcast, The Anti Trans Hate Machine. Also, Veralyn and Imara breakdown why there is a lack...more

  • Why We Must Vote

    Jun 21 2021

    New York City faces a consequential election. We look at the history of our local election laws. Plus, the mastermind behind new voting restrictions nationally. Senior Reporter Arun Venugopal guest hosts and sits down with WNYC’s City Hall and Politics Reporter Brigid Bergin to discuss her reporting about voter turnout across New York City, the new ranked-choice voting system and how the history of the city’s political machines continue to impact the lives of New Yorkers today. Then, Ari Berman,...more

  • David Dinkins vs. the NYPD

    Jun 14 2021

    How NYC’s first Black mayor tried to balance concerns about public safety with demands for a more accountable police force -- and the violent resistance he faced from the police union. Under the Dinkins administration, the crime rate declined, but his complex relationship with the New York Police Department - which grew in size under his tenure - often overshadows his legacy. As voting is underway for the 2021 mayoral race, our senior editor Christopher Werth tells the story of Dinkins’s attempt...more

  • The Dawn of ‘Anti-Racist’ America

    Jun 07 2021

    Ibram X. Kendi reflects on a shifting political culture -- and the fierce backlash against it. Plus, a remembrance of the 1921 Tulsa massacre.  With five best-selling books, including How to Be an Antiracist and Four Hundred Souls, Kendi has been at the center of the nation’s racial reckoning over the past year. He talks with Kai about the ideas people have found most challenging, and about his new podcast, Be Antiracist, which launches on June 9th. Then, listeners tell us what they’ve learned a...more

  • The ‘Big Bang’ in Jazz History

    May 31 2021

    Jazz pianist Jason Moran brings us an exploration into the life and work of James Reese Europe and how the infamous 369th Infantry Regiment - also known as the Harlem Hellfighters - crossed racial lines and brought jazz to Europe. Joe Young of New York Public Radio talks about how using music as a service member informed his own patriotism Companion listening for this episode: Juneteenth, an Unfinished Business (June 26, 2020) As the nation grapples with a reckoning, we pause to celebrate Junete...more

  • How NYPD ‘Kettled’ the Spirit of Reform

    May 24 2021

    New Yorkers reacted to George Floyd’s murder with mass protests demanding police accountability. NYPD met them with targeted violence and abuse. On June 4, 2020, a few hundred people gathered in the South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven to protest the murder of George Floyd. They were met with overwhelming force -- in an event that has come to represent NYPD’s steadfast refusal to accept public scrutiny. WNYC’s Race and Justice Unit has been reconstructing what happened that night, from the van...more

  • F*&% Robert Moses. Let’s Start Over

    May 17 2021

    We’re finally back in the streets -- but are we ready to reimagine how we share public space? This week, a trip through the century-long fight between cars, bikes, and people. Kai Wright takes us on a bike tour across Brooklyn - alongside Streetsblog New York reporter Dave Colon - to survey the ways in which inequity is built into the blacktop. Former New York City Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz a.k.a. Gridlock Sam shares a behind-the-scenes look at the history of the city’s streets and how o...more

  • Ma’Khia Bryant’s Story Is Too Familiar

    May 13 2021

    We failed her long before the cops killed her. We’re failing thousands more children like her now. In this bonus episode, we meet one of those girls. Girls often land in detention because they have experienced some form of trauma: abusive families, bad experiences in the foster care system, and especially sexual abuse. Desiree is a young woman who has bounced between foster care, detention centers, and residential treatment centers since she was 10. Even though she has been the repeated victim o...more

  • No More ‘Selfless’ Moms

    May 10 2021

    Erased from history. Ignored in public policy. This Mother’s Day, we ask how to truly value “motherwork.” Plus: The story of one “woke birth.” Gates scholar and author Anna Malaika Tubbs encourages each of us to reimagine our relationships with motherhood and challenge the erasure of mothering figures - starting in the past. Her book, The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation, tells the stories of the three women who birthed, raise...more

  • The Method to Tucker Carlson’s Madness

    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. Nicole Hemmer, an associate research scholar at Columbia University and author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics, explains how right wing media serves -- and surrounds -- its audience. Then, Channing Gerard Joseph, a journalism professor at the University of Southern California-Annenb...more

  • Do We Need the Police at All?

    Apr 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. Community organizer and educator Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele joins callers as we reimagine a world without policing, and shares his own stories from decades of police reform activism in New York City. Plus, Dr. Jameta Nicole Barlow, a psychologist, public health scientist, and assistant professor at The George Washington University, explains intergenerational ...more

  • Why Cops Don’t Change

    Apr 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.” Armed with the lessons from a 20-year-long career in law enforcement, retired NYPD Detective Marq Claxton talks about the police mindset and how a badge never shielded him from the fear that so many Black Americans carry everyday. Elie Mystal, justice correspondent at The Nation, grounds the conversation in the history of Amer...more

  • Government: A Love-Hate Story

    Apr 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?  Kai talks with three change-makers about the role of government in our lives. Activist Mari Copeny a.k.a. “Little Miss Flint” recounts how a letter that she sent as an elementary school student brought national attention to a public health crisis in her backyard - and inspired her to continue giving back to her community, speaking out and hol...more

  • Desegregation By Any Means Necessary

    Apr 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. As the Sausalito Marin City School District continues to grapple with school desegregation, Reporter Marianne McCune brings us the sequel -- and the prequel -- to “Two Schools in Marin County”. She takes us back in time to witness how one of the first communities in the country to voluntarily desegregate took an un...more

  • How to End the Dominion of Men

    Mar 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.  Linda Hirschman, author of Reckoning: The Epic Battle Against Sexual Abuse and Harassment, tells the story of how a small group of women in a room in Ithaca, New York, came up with two words that attempted to change the law, and the workplace, forever. But as you'll hear, victory really has a thousand mothers. Many of the ...more

  • The Missing History of Asian America

    Mar 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? A mass shooting in Atlanta follows a year of warnings from Asian Americans who have said they do not feel safe. But the violence has forced to the surface old questions about where Asian Americans sit in our nation’s maddening racial caste system, and community leaders have struggled to get people across the political and racial...more

  • Collective Loss, Collective Care

    Mar 15 2021

    More than half a million Americans - our family, friends, neighbors, loved ones - have lost their lives to the virus over the past year and our collective grief continues to compound, but communities have come together in remarkable ways to take care of themselves. Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Gregory Porter checks in with us on the first anniversary of the Covid-19 pandemic to talk about grieving his brother lost to the virus, the power of community, and finding encouragement through so...more

  • Capitalism vs. Time

    Mar 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.  Labor journalist and Type Media Center reporting fellow Sarah Jaffe breaks down the history of workplace organizing at Amazon and in the Black South. And she talks about her new book, “Work Won’t Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone,” as listeners chime in about their own ex...more

  • Actor Daniel Kaluuya’s Road to Revolutionary

    Mar 04 2021

    On December 4th of 1969, Fred Hampton -- the 21-year-old chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party -- was shot dead in his sleep during a raid by Chicago police, but decades of investigation into his death revealed an even more insidious plot.  Actor Daniel Kaluuya -- known for his roles in “Get Out” and “Queen & Slim” -- portrays Hampton in the new film, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” which follows Hampton’s meteoric rise through the party, a multiracial class movement and the series of ...more

  • The Secret Tapes of a Suburban Drug War

    Mar 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. Following months of investigation into allegations of police corruption in Mount Vernon, reporter George Joseph of WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit brings us a story about unchecked power, policing in communities of color and our long national hangover from the war on drugs. Part of George Joseph’s story, “The Moun...more

  • Blackness (Un)interrupted

    Feb 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.  We reflect on the life, language and legacy of renowned writer Zora Neale Hurston with Bernice McFadden, a novelist and contributor to the new anthology, Four Hundred Souls: A Community History Of African America, 1619-2019. Producer Veralyn Williams then brings us a story about a deep division that continues to pla...more

  • The Case Against Those ‘Tubman $20s’

    Feb 18 2021

    People are excited to replace Andrew Jackson’s face with an abolitionist hero. But Brittney Cooper argues not all honorifics are the same. The Biden Treasury Department has announced that efforts to put abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s portrait -- in place of President Andrew Jackson -- on the face of the twenty dollar bill will resume. It represents an effort to celebrate her and “reflect the history and diversity of our country,” but some believe that this would do more harm than good. Dr. Brittn...more

  • Impeachment: Catharsis and Impunity

    Feb 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?  Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Blight returns to the show to help Kai put the trial in historical context. Blight has warned that the former president is trying to create a Confederate-style Lost Cause mythology. So where’s that project stand now?  Then WNYC’s Brian Lehrer and The Nation’s Elie Mystal join Kai as he c...more

  • The ‘Beautiful Experiments’ Left Out of Black History

    Feb 08 2021

    Cultural historian 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 MacArthur fellow is the author of “Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Riotous Black Girls, Troublesome Women, and Queer Radicals,” which offers an intimate look into some of the Black lives that have been seemingly erased from the history books -- simply for not fitting int...more

  • The Origin Story of Black History Month

    Feb 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. Producer Veralyn Williams invites us into a lively conversation about her annual Black History Month parties -- before COVID-19 social distancing was imposed -- with some friends of the show.  Then, Dr. Pero Dagbovie, a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of History and an Associate Dean in the Gradu...more

  • New Hopes, Old Fears

    Jan 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.  Jericho Brown, recipient of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, reads his new work ‘Inaugural,’ and reflects upon the power of our words - political rhetoric and prose alike - to strengthen communities. Professor and historian Dr. Kidada E. Williams reflects on the relationship between justice, history and why we must make space for uncomfortable truths about ...more