100 episodes

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.

The United States of Anxiety WNYC

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 1.3K Ratings

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.

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

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

    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 filmed version of the show debuted on Apple TV Plus on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

    Companion Listening:The Counter-Jihad Movement & the Making of a President (9/11/2017)David Yerushalmi sees the threat of radical Islam everywhere. And thanks to him and his allies, the president now does, too.

    “The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC. 

    We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter @WNYC using the hashtag #USofAnxiety or email us at anxiety@wnyc.org.

    • 50 min
    The Legacy of Abu Ghraib

    The Legacy of Abu Ghraib

    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 at Abu Ghraib have yet to be held accountable. In this episode, we tell Salah’s story. To follow his case, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights. 

    Seth Freed Wessler’s reporting for this episode was done in partnership with Reveal and Type Media Center.

    Companion listening for this episode:

    The Counter-Jihad Movement & the Making of a President (9/11/2017)

    David Yerushalmi sees the threat of radical Islam everywhere. And thanks to him and his allies, the Republican Party now does, too.  

     

    “The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC. 

    We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter @WNYC using the hashtag #USofAnxiety or email us at anxiety@wnyc.org.

    • 36 min
    Maybe We Just Want Less ‘Work’

    Maybe We Just Want Less ‘Work’

    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 don’t want -- from their jobs. 

    Then, in a time when it’s harder to deal with others, finding ways to connect in our “new normal” is becoming challenging again. So, reporter Jenny Casas introduces us to a list of questions that have helped her get to know the people around her. The list is actually a poem written by Chicago-based artist, educator and activist, Benji Hart. Its questions range from the mundane (2. Where is the least-visited corner in your home?) to the romantic (5. What is the cruelest thing you have done in love?) to the deeply personal (20. What hypocrisy in yourself have you yet to amend?).

    Companion listening for this episode:

    Capitalism vs. Time (3/8/2021)

    Kai and Sarah Jaffe consider the history of collective action -- and the struggle to shield our humanity from the demands of productivity.

    “The Necessary Work” (9/7/2020)

    Public and care workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, but who takes care of them? We explore the histories, realities and hopes of these very essential workers.

    “The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC. 

    We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter @WNYC using the hashtag #USofAnxiety or email us at anxiety@wnyc.org.

    • 49 min
    How Zillow Explains Education Inequity

    How Zillow Explains Education Inequity

    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 country.

    Later in the show: From infrastructure to PTAs, a school’s priorities are largely determined by districts. But why do we have school districts at all? Kevin Carey,  the director of the education policy program for New America, explains the history, going back to 1785. For more, you can read his article in the journal Democracy, “No More School Districts!” 

    Companion listening for this episode:

    Two Schools in Marin County (02/06/2020)

    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.

    Who Owns the Deed to the American Dream? (09/29/2016)

    Suburbia's current existential crisis comes as no surprise to those who know the history beyond its white picket fences.


    “The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC. 

    We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter @WNYC using the hashtag #USofAnxiety or email us at anxiety@wnyc.org.

    • 47 min
    The Man, the Myth, the Manipulation

    The Man, the Myth, the Manipulation

    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 in the 2014 primary. She talks with Kai about her essay in The Nation from March 2021. 

    Companion listening for this episode:

    How to End the Dominion of Men (03/29/2021)

    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.

    What Does the Right Kind of Woman Sound Like? (11/05/2018)

    Shrill, strident, bossy. These are the misogynistic slurs women often face when they run for elected office. So what should power sound like?



    “The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC. 

     

    We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter @WNYC using the hashtag #USofAnxiety or email us at anxiety@wnyc.org.

    • 25 min
    Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Haiti and International Aid

    Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Haiti and International Aid

     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 confronts history, anti-blackness and the way forward with Dr. Marlene Daut, professor and Associate Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. Listen as they explore the origins of Haiti’s image as a “cursed” country and how that image  is rooted in anti-blackness.

    Then, we turn to a conversation with playwright Anna Deveare Smith about the unrest that gripped Crown Heights, Brooklyn almost 30 years ago. How are social narratives shaped, and can we benefit from a shared one that celebrates difference?

    Companion listening for this episode:

    Collective Loss, Collective Care

    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.

    Blackness (Un)interrupted

    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.

     

    “The United States of Anxiety” airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. To catch all the action, tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on WNYC.org/anxiety or tell your smart speakers to play WNYC. 

    We want to hear from you! Connect with us on Twitter @WNYC using the hashtag #USofAnxiety or email us at anxiety@wnyc.org.

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
1.3K Ratings

1.3K Ratings

askepticisneverfooled ,

An amazingly well-researched and insightful series, a true gem

I’m very happy that this series exists. We are one nation, and we need to understand each other and the stresses that exist in each other’s communities. Whichever way the election goes, we will all still be here together afterward.

OK, that was written during the 2016 election season. The format and emphasis have changed a bit, but this remains an extremely insightful and well-researched show. I have learned a lot about this country I’ve always lived in from this show.

Club Muchacha ,

One of the best political podcasts

I love Kai Wright’s perspective, the engaging stories he chooses, and the eye-opening information from the guests he brings on. This podcast is so unique and Kai’s repeated goal of “making sense of our country’s unfinished history,” is noble and necessary. Please listen and share, this Podcast needs all ears!

kd^ ,

Four Hundred Souls

Reading this historical and eye-opening book, I learned about this podcast. I’m most appreciative for the effort of all those participating as I am eager to learn and become more knowledgeable about the past and ongoing struggles of people of color. I am passionate about doing my part to support whenever I find an opportunity. I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Every human being has value. I believe that we are all created by God. Thank you!

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