TONIKA LEWIS JOHNSON

Social Justice Artist

TONIKA LEWIS JOHNSON

NEW PROJECT: Inequity for Sale

On January 29, 2021, Tonika Lewis Johnson was selected as the National Public Housing Museum’s 2021 Artist-as-Instigator. As a part of her residency, she has set her sights on the living history of Greater Englewood homes sold on Land Sale Contracts (LSCs) during the 50s and 60s and how LSCs directly contributed to the wealth gap and community disinvestment we witness today. Her project, titled "Inequity for Sale," will comprise 10-15 life-sized land markers for LSC homes, a website documenting the stories of this period of plunder, and a walking tour via the Vamonde app that connects this history with present-day conditions in Greater Englewood. For more info click the following link: https://www.nphm.org/inequity-for-sale or http://inequityforsale.com/, the project’s new website that will be updated with each phase of the project throughout 2022.

http://inequityforsale.com/ - The website will be updated as each phase of the project is shared with the public throughout 2022.

February 22, 2022 - NBC 5 Chicago features Tonika's Inequity For Sale project. Click the video above to watch the entire segment.

March 21, 2022 Acclaimed Race & Inequality reporter Natalie Moore covered Inequity For Sale for WBEZ. Click to listen to the audio story. Click the following link to read the correspondign article:https://www.wbez.org/stories/artist-shows-impact-of-contract-buying-in-chicago/28161102-a89a-4fa2-b070-561a7c49a92a

March 3, 2022 - Block Club Chicago reports on owner of abandoned Englewood who removed the landmarker, part of the Inequity For Sale project, from in fron of his propoerty. Click the following link to read the full story: https://blockclubchicago.org/2022/03/03/after-homeowner-removes-sign-of-home-once-sold-through-racist-practices-englewood-activist-will-adjust-art-project/

February 23, 2022 - Block Club Chicago wrote about Inequity For Sale's first two landmarkers being installed. Click the following link to read the full story: https://blockclubchicago.org/2022/02/23/englewood-artist-launches-inequity-for-sale-exhibit-featuring-2-south-side-homes-sold-through-racist-practices/

December 21, 2021 - Crain's Chicago Business covered Tonika's Inequity For Sale project online and in their corresponding podcast. Click the following link to read the complete article and listen to the podcast converage: https://www.chicagobusiness.com/residential-real-estate/artist-maps-englewood-homes-where-land-sale-contracts-denied-black

Nov. 17, 2021 - Block Club Chicago wrote about Inequity For Sale Project. Read the full article at the following link: https://blockclubchicago.org/2021/11/17/black-chicagoans-were-cheated-out-of-owning-homes-for-decades-this-englewood-art-project-shows-racisms-lasting-impact/

Here, Tonika Johnson holds up a landmarker mock up designed by architect and urban planner, Paola Aguirre, for the "Inequity for Sale," project; an exploration of homes sold on Land Sale Contracts in Greater Englewood to demonstrate how legalized theft contributed to present inequity in Black communities.
This year she is the 2021 Artist As Instigator at the National Public Housing Museum (NPHM), an artist residency supporting new work that challenges the status quo around housing, race, and inequality.
As a part of her residency, Johnson has set her sights on the living history of Greater Englewood homes sold on Land Sale Contracts during the 50s and 60s.
“My goal with this project is to map the evidence of historic legalized theft in Greater Englewood and engage the public in action-oriented conversations that ultimately bring this unresolved crime to justice,” said Johnson.
Land Sale Contracts, or LSCs, were an unscrupulous practice wherein would-be homebuyers, locked out of traditional mortgages by racist policies, were offered contracts that enforced excessive monthly payments without ever transferring ownership. The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago (2018) reported between 75-95% of homes sold to Black families during this period were sold via LSCs, and more than 100 of these homes were documented in Englewood alone. Amber Hendley, lead researcher on this report, shared the addresses with a curious Lewis Johnson who quickly discovered many of these homes were still standing.

Inequity for Sale is an artistic, critical exploration of this racist practice in Black neighborhoods, and how LSCs directly contributed to the wealth gap and community disinvestment witnessed today. The project will comprise 10-15 life-sized land markers for LSC homes, a website documenting the stories of this period of plunder, and a walking tour via the Vamonde app that connects this history with present-day conditions in Greater Englewood.

Tonika standing next to the landmarker prototype on her lawn. It will remain on Tonika's lawn for outdoor testing until January 2022.

November 16, 2021 - The Inequity for Sale landmarker prototype, designed by Tonika's project partner, architect & designer, Paola Aguirre, was delivered to Tonika's home by its fabricator, Andres Lemus-Spont of Building Brown Studio so it can be tested outdoors before the next 14 are made and installed by Spring 2022.

This is a map of all the homes sold on Land Sale Contracts in Greater Englewood between 1950-1975.

Front

Back

Paola Aguirre, Tonika's long time project partner and architect/designer, measures the landmarker mock up on a recent site visit to the Land Sale Contract homes included in 'Inequity for Sale."

Paola & Tonika stand with the landmarker prototype in its initial fabrication phase at Andres Lemus-Spont's Building Brown Studio.

Black families in Chicago lost an estimated $4 billion due to predatory contract buying, according to the findings of Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity 2019 study, which is the first report to put a dollar amount on the discriminatory practice. You can read download the complete report at the following link: https://socialequity.duke.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Plunder-of-Black-Wealth-in-Chicago.pdf

This excerpt from "The Color Tax," episode of a five-part film series called “The Shame of Chicago” by Chicago native and producer, Bruce Orenstein, demonstrates the devastating impact that Land Sale Contracts had on black wealth-building and racial comity in Chicago, creating a wealth gap that continued to widen as white affluence grew. This predatory system of contract home sales arose after World War II that plundered wealth from black families unable to secure the safe mortgages their white counterparts enjoyed because of redlining that made their neighborhoods ineligible for federally insured loans. Highlighting the contrast between the rapid expansion of a white middle class that benefited from federal policies and home equity and black families who stood to lose everything with a single missed payment.
Additional funding is needed to complete the film however you can learn more at http://www.shameofchicago.org/

On Wednesday, June 2, 2021, Tonika Lewis Johnson hosted a public hearing to launch her latest project Inequity for Sale, an exploration of homes sold on Land Sale Contracts in Greater, Englewood to demonstrate how legalized theft contributed to present inequity in Black communities.

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Folded Map as told to Chicago Sun-Times