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“Stealing Home”, 2020


The term “redlining” was coined by sociologist James McKnight in the 1960s . This discriminatory practice typically involves  mortgage companies that refuse to lend money or extend credit to borrowers in certain areas of town. Reverse redlining occurs when a lender targets minority consumers, not to deny them loans, but to charge them more than a similarly situated white consumer. 


In the 2000s some financial institutions considered black communities a feasting ground for subprime mortgages. Wells Fargo partnered with churches in black communities, where the pastor would deliver "wealth building" seminars in their sermons, and the bank would make a donation to the church in return for every new mortgage application. Rather than contributing to homeownership and community progress, the bank stripped the equity homeowners struggled to build and drained the wealth of those communities for their own financial gain. 


This piece echoes the redlining maps that were created In 1935 when the Federal Home Loan Bank Board asked Home Owners' Loan Corporation to look at 239 cities and create "residential security maps" to indicate the level of risk for real-estate investments. The maps show the newest areas (considered desirable for lending purposes) outlined in green and known as "Type A". These were typically affluent suburbs on the outskirts of cities. "Type B" neighborhoods, outlined in blue, were considered "Still Desirable", whereas older "Type C" were labeled "Declining" and outlined in yellow. "Type D" neighborhoods were outlined in red and were considered the most risky for mortgage loans. 


The term redlining can also apply when real estate agents follow similarly discriminatory practices in showing homes. In 2019 New York Newsday completed a three year investigative report on real estate practices on Long Island. They sent 25 minority and white buyers, using the same financial profile, to 93 realtors across Long Island. The results were horrifying. See the report here.


"Stealing Home" is made from the leathers of found baseballs, sewn together with embroidery thread using the colors of the redlining maps. It measures 44” x 40” framed . In baseball, “stealing home” means the runner on third base runs for and successfully arrives at home base after the pitcher has thrown the ball. It is the riskiest stolen base yet Jackie Robinson did it in the 1955 World Series, Babe Ruth did it 10 times in his career, and Bryce Harper did it for the first time in his career when he was just 19 years old.

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