Notes from America with Kai Wright Notes from America with Kai Wright is a show about the unfinished business of our history, and its grip on our future.
Notes from America with Kai Wright

Notes from America with Kai Wright

From WNYC Radio

Notes from America with Kai Wright is a show about the unfinished business of our history, and its grip on our future.

Most Recent Episodes

Message Received: Listener Questions About Trump, What 'The Wiz' Means and Stories About Summer

Back in April, some of our listeners told us they were "Trump curious." A few months later, the former president is now a convicted criminal and other listeners have lingering questions. The Notes from America inbox is always teeming with interesting takes from our audience and in this episode, host Kai Wright is joined by producer Regina de Heer to go through the various messages the show has received in recent months. They include notes about this year's presidential election, one listener's chance interaction with a performance of "The Wiz" in a historic town, and a touching response to our request for your stories about summer. By the way, it's not too late to send in your summer stories! Do you have a summer tradition that you will be breaking this year, for whatever reason? Will you make an intentional change to your seasonal routine, whether big or small? If so, we want to hear from you. Leave us a voicemail at 844-745-8255 with your name, location and the story of what you're doing differently. Or you can record a voice memo on your device and email it to us at notes@wnyc.org. Regina just may reach back out to you for a more detailed version of your shifting summer experience. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Message Received: Listener Questions About Trump, What 'The Wiz' Means and Stories About Summer

Tony-Nominated Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins on Using Theater to Make Sense of Nonsense

Ten years after its original staging, "Appropriate" has received eight Tony Award nominations. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins talks about the moments of his life that inspired it. The play tells the story of three siblings reuniting in their family home after the death of their father. Charged with going through his belongings, the children discover troubling relics within the home. They are left to deal with the question of an inheritance, but also this new challenge to their late father's legacy. Jacobs-Jenkins has since staged "Appropriate" several times, been a Pulitzer Prize finalist for two subsequent plays, and been awarded a MacArthur "genius" fellowship. But it wasn't until December 2023 that the playwright made his Broadway debut with "Appropriate," which is now up for eight Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play and Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play for actress Sarah Paulson. Host Kai Wright sits with Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins to discuss the real-life moments that inspired the creation of this show, and the playwright's efforts to understand the complicated inheritances of race in America. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Tony-Nominated Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins on Using Theater to Make Sense of Nonsense

Still In Recovery From Being Shot, Hisham Awartani Commits To a Summer of Activism

Notes from America producer Suzanne Gaber returns to the campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, for an update on Hisham Awartani, a 21-year-old student of Palestinian descent, who was paralyzed after being shot during a holiday break in Vermont in 2023. As Awartani continues to work on his physical recovery and navigating life in a wheelchair, he has also assumed a high profile role on campus in the student-led movement to urge Brown to divest from companies doing business in the occupied Palestinian territories. Companion listening for this episode: A Palestinian American Victim of American Gun Violence Becomes a Reluctant Poster Child (2/19/2024) Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Still In Recovery From Being Shot, Hisham Awartani Commits To a Summer of Activism

Is Donald Trump's Historic Felony Conviction Just a Part of Our New Political Normal?

Last week, a jury in Manhattan handed down a guilty verdict in the hush money trial of Donald J. Trump for 34 counts related to falsifying business records to influence the 2016 election. Even though the verdict made Trump the first former president to be convicted of felony crimes, most American voters say the outcome of the trial doesn't make much difference to how they'll show up to the polls in November. In this episode, host Kai Wright is joined by award-winning journalist Andrea Bernstein, who has covered five of Trump's trials in New York for NPR, including this latest one, and who is the author of a book about Trump's enterprises called "American Oligarchs: the Kushners, the Trumps and the Marriage of Money and Power." Bernstein is also the co-host of the podcasts Trump Inc., Will Be Wild and We Don't Talk About Leonard. She shares her takeaways from the New York courtroom where the former president was found guilty, and looks ahead to his sentencing and the series of legal challenges facing Trump in the months to come. Plus, callers from around the country share their reactions to the historic verdict, and their questions about what this outcome means for the rest of this election year. Companion listening for this episode: Voter Vibe Check: Why Trump Has More Support From Black Voters Than Ever (4/8/2024) A new poll says if the presidential election was held today, 23 percent of Black voters would cast their ballot for Trump. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Is Donald Trump's Historic Felony Conviction Just a Part of Our New Political Normal?

What Does It Mean To Be Free?

Author Ayana Mathis' new novel, The Unsettled, is an intergenerational story centered around one Black family's struggle to find freedom in the 1980s. Like her previous work, migration and movement are major themes in the book. But this time, her characters are at a crossroads, unsure of their next step in search of self-determination. Mathis joins host Kai Wright to reveal the questions that torment the characters in her gripping novel, and discuss her own journey grappling with those themes. During this episode, Kai refers to a previous episode about our Future of Black History series featuring Saidiya Hartman, which can be found here. This episode was originally published September 25, 2023. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Class Of 2024 Grads Reflect On Being Expected to Change the World

We should all know by now how foolish it is to underestimate youth. Gen Z, the generation of people born between 1997 and 2012, has already changed the world in ways that no one could have anticipated, from mass protests against gun violence to international movements to reckon with climate change. For members of this generation who are part of the graduating class of 2024, a series of unfortunate and unprecedented events have shaped the way they engage in political, social and cultural issues. Many of them missed the opportunity to walk the stage of their high school graduation as Covid-19 swept over the world. That same year, they witnessed and participated in massive uprisings in support of Black lives, only to see a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol a few months later. Now, some of their college graduation ceremonies are being shaped by protests in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, or — much like high school — canceled altogether. Amidst all these challenges, these graduates and their peers have been burdened with the expectation that they are the generation that will change the world. Yet, they are often dismissed as lazy, selfish and overly sensitive. In this episode of Notes from America, host Kai Wright is joined by Gen Z educator and podcast host Taylor Coward. Kai and Taylor take calls from several class of 2024 graduates, including "Cee Kay" who participated in a walkout protest during their commencement; and Gabe Fleisher, author of the WakeUp2Politics newsletter, which he started in elementary school. They talk about how their experiences have influenced their outlook and optimism about the future, and about the societal pressures they face as they enter the workforce and a world in turmoil. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Why Divestment Is At the Core of Student Protests

While news coverage has been justifiably focused on the aggressive police response to anti-war college protests at campuses around the country, it's noteworthy that a handful of U.S. schools have agreed to come to the table with students and discuss their demands. At the top of the list for many campus activists: divestment. At Brown University, where protests against Israel's war have been occurring since the fall of 2023, students want the administration to cut ties with companies that do business with Israel's occupied territories. As student negotiator Isabella Garo explains, it's less about hurting the companies financially and more about being a moral model for academic institutions, large and small. In this episode, Garo joins host Kai Wright to talk about taking on her university over a contentious issue, and where she sees the role of Brown Divest in the larger Free Palestine movement. Click here to read a statement from a Brown University spokesperson about why the school agreed to negotiate with students and take a vote on the issue of divestment in October 2024. Then, Kai discusses how the current calls for divestment echo previous student-led protest movements on campuses with Chris Marsicano, assistant professor of educational studies at Davidson College. Marsicano breaks down the history of university divestment and why it can be a complicated ask, particularly at state schools and elite colleges. Companion listening for this episode: A Palestinian-American Victim Of American Gun Violence Becomes A Reluctant Poster Child (2/19/2024) Brown University student Hisham Awartani processes his injuries, and the trauma of his community back home in the West Bank. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

What 'The Wiz' Was And Is to Black Culture

The iconic musical "The Wiz" has returned to Broadway. The Black take on "The Wizard of Oz" debuted in 1974, featuring theater stars such as Stephanie Mills, André De Shields and Dee Dee Bridgewater. It was later adapted as a film starring Diana Ross, Lena Horne and Michael Jackson. After decades of countless local stage productions and bootleg VHS tapes passed around among friends and neighbors, "The Wiz" is a beloved cultural touchstone for many generations of Black people. Host Kai Wright is joined by Jason King, dean of the University of Southern California's Thornton School of Music, to discuss behind the scenes details of the many iterations of "The Wiz," and break down how it went from "mid" reviews to a Black cultural artifact. Plus, they take calls from listeners across the country about their connections to the show — including a special one from Schele Williams, director of the revival of "The Wiz" now on Broadway. Companion listening for this episode: Amber Ruffin Talks 'The Wiz' Revival, Writing for 'Late Night,' and Representation in Comedy (4/15/2024) The comedian breaks down how her long career writing and performing as a Black woman prepared her for her new venture: bringing the Black cult-classic "The Wiz" back to Broadway. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Tonya Mosley Reckons with a Dark Family Story and Holds Tight to Hope in the Podcast She Has a Name

Tonya Mosley's voice is familiar to millions of public radio listeners across the country. She co-hosted NPR's midday news show Here and Now for several years before becoming co-host of Fresh Air in 2022. Now, the award-winning audio journalist is taking listeners on a personal journey. Around two decades ago, Mosley was just at the start of her career working in Louisville, Kentucky, when she got a call from a young man named Antonio Wiley, who said he was her nephew. Mosley hadn't grown up with her father, so the idea that she might have a nephew she had never met wasn't totally shocking. But then her nephew said something that would shock her and come to define so much of Mosley's adult life. Wiley's mom and Mosley's eldest sister, Anita Wiley, had been missing since 1987, and Wiley has been searching to find out what happened to her since the age of 14. After a major discovery led to Anita's body in 2020, Mosley and Wiley decided to retrace Anita's life, hoping to find out what happened to her, documenting their effort in a podcast. It's called She Has a Name, and it's part memoir, part investigative journalism — a deep dive into the city and the history that shaped Anita's life and the lives of the people who loved her. In this episode of Notes from America, Mosley walks us through how this investigation redefined her relationship with her hometown and her identity, how it impacted her nephew, and what it means for people to try and find closure when so many questions remain unanswered. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET., and listeners to the broadcast and podcast are invited to join the conversation at 844-745-TALK(8255). Podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.

Tonya Mosley Reckons with a Dark Family Story and Holds Tight to Hope in the Podcast She Has a Name

How This Passover Feels Different For Many Jewish Americans

Nearly seven months after October 7th and the start of the war in Gaza, emotions over the violence and devastation are still running hot here in the U.S, and inspiring an exercise in self-reflection for many Jewish Americans. It's a confusing and anxious moment to celebrate Passover, marked this year by personal and communal crises over Israel, rising anti-Semitism and political divisions playing out in the public eye. Passover is a holiday traditionally centered around the stories of Jewish liberation from oppression. How can these ancient stories be translated into a modern context? And how can a seder table be shared with people who might have different perspectives about what it means to be Jewish in America right now? Guest host Matt Katz shares his personal story of a shifting Jewish identity and sits down with Noah Feldman, Harvard Law professor and author of "To Be A Jew Today: A New Guide to God, Israel, and the Jewish People," to address some of these questions and take calls from Jewish listeners across the country. Tell us what you think. We're on Instagram and X (Twitter) @noteswithkai. Email us a message or voice memo at notes@wnyc.org. Or click here to record yourself. "Notes from America" airs live on Sunday evenings at 6pm ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts. Tune into the show on Sunday nights via the stream on notesfromamerica.org. Tell us what you think. We're @noteswithkai on Instagram and X (Twitter). Email us at notes@wnyc.org. Send us a voice message by recording yourself on your phone and emailing us, or record one here. Notes from America airs live on Sundays at 6 p.m. ET. The podcast episodes are lightly edited from our live broadcasts.