About Inequity For Sale

Inequity for Sale is an artistic, a virtual and physical exploration of homes sold on Land Sale Contracts in the 50s and 60s, demonstrating how legalized theft in the past directly contributed to present inequity in Black communities.

The project by Tonika Lewis Johnson includes 10 life-sized land markers, this website documenting the homes and stories of residents, a podcast, and virtual walking tour that connects this history with present-day conditions.

Lewis Johnson’s dream goal is to campaign for a collection of the homes to become an official City landmark, and purchase one to convert into a community art center with a permanent exhibition for her Folded Map project.

About Land Sale Contracts

In the 50’s and 60’s 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. According to a Duke University study, between 75-95% of homes sold to Black families during this period were sold via LSCs. “What happened during this crucial era, that of the making of America’s mass white middle class during the long postwar economic boom, was a systematic, legally sanctioned plunder of black wealth,” to the tune of over $3.2 billion.

The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago (2018) documented more than 100 homes in Englewood alone sold using this practice. Amber Hendley, lead researcher on this report, shared the addresses with a curious Tonika who quickly discovered many of these homes were still standing.

About Tonika

Chicago-based photographer Tonika Lewis Johnson is a long-time community activist who began documenting Englewood, her South Side neighborhood, as a way of counteracting the numerous media reports and visuals that ignored the positive and focused on the problems. She made beautiful images of the people and beloved spaces of her neighborhood that were exhibited in her hometown at Rootwork Gallery, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Harold Washington Library Center, and Loyola University’s Museum of Art. 

In 2010, Tonika helped co-found the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E), with the mission of building relationships and mobilizing people and resources to create positive change. She also co-founded the Englewood Arts Collective in 2017. In her work, Tonika explores segregation and documents the richness of the black community. This approach was the foundation for her critically acclaimed Folded Map project, that visually investigates disparities among Chicago residents and brings them together for conversation. On her website, there are images, videos, and a downloadable action kit for those who wish to expand their knowledge of their surroundings and explore how systemic racism has impacted all facets of our lives.