The United States of Anxiety

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@wnyc.org. And you can keep up with Kai on Twitter @kai_wright. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other great podcasts including Radiolab, Death, Sex & Money, and On the Media.

Episodes

November 29, 2021 51 min

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...

Share
Mark as Played

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...

Share
Mark as Played
November 15, 2021 49 min

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.wnycstu...

Share
Mark as Played

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...

Share
Mark as Played
November 1, 2021 59 min

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,...

Share
Mark as Played

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, som...

Share
Mark as Played
October 18, 2021 43 min

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 ...

Share
Mark as Played
October 11, 2021 51 min

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, ...

Share
Mark as Played
October 4, 2021 49 min

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...

Share
Mark as Played
September 27, 2021 50 min

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...

Share
Mark as Played
September 20, 2021 49 min

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 mak...

Share
Mark as Played

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 c...

Share
Mark as Played
September 10, 2021 36 min

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 ...

Share
Mark as Played
September 7, 2021 49 min

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, a...

Share
Mark as Played
August 30, 2021 47 min

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 Repo...

Share
Mark as Played
August 25, 2021 25 min

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, Asso...

Share
Mark as Played

 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...

Share
Mark as Played
August 16, 2021 51 min

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...

Share
Mark as Played
August 9, 2021 50 min

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 Willi...

Share
Mark as Played
August 2, 2021 50 min

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 ...

Share
Mark as Played

Popular Podcasts

    If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

    Dateline NBC

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    The Daily

    This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.

    Stuff You Should Know

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

    Around the NFL

    NFL.com's "Around the NFL" crew (Gregg Rosenthal, Dan Hanzus and Marc Sessler) break down the latest football news, with a dash of mirth.

Advertise With Us

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

    Connect

    © 2021 iHeartMedia, Inc.

    • Help
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • AdChoicesAd Choices