Rest easy Paul Johnson

Notes from the 8/19/21 issue

Rest easy Paul Johnson

Iconic Chicago House DJ Paul Johnson passed away on August 4 from COVID-19 at only fifty years old. Johnson, who began DJing in 1987 at the age of thirteen, worked with myriad House record labels and founded his own, Dust Traxx, in 1997. Two years later, the South Sider’s signature hit “Get Get Down” took the world by storm, reaching the number-one spot on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. That track combines staccato piano chords with snappy synths and churning bass, along with an irresistible message: get down. French DJ duo Daft Punk paid tribute to Johnson on their ‘97 track “Teachers,” which lists House legends who influenced them. Even as he became internationally famous, Johnson, who used a wheelchair after being shot as a teenager, continued to play at house parties and clubs in Chicago—ever accessible, kind, and ready with an easy smile. The untimely loss of an internationally famous luminary, like those of other Black artists who recently passed far too soon, underscores the horrific effect systemic racism continues to have on Black health and Black life. 

Local demographics: census

Chicago’s population has grown by about 50,000 people, according to preliminary Census data released last week. White people are still Chicago’s largest racial group, though their numbers only grew by one percent. Black communities unfortunately continue on a gradual decline; the city lost about 85,000 Black Chicagoans in the last decade. Among new immigrants, the Asian population saw the largest increase, with a growth of 45,000 people. Mexican outmigration into the suburbs, likely due to gentrification as well as proximity to jobs, resulted in suburban Cook County’s Latinx population shooting up by about 100,000 residents in the span of ten years. 

Illinois’ eviction moratorium uncertain

The State of Illinois is still making a decision on whether it will extend its own eviction moratorium. While the CDC has extended its halt on carrying out evictions until October 3, which will afford tenants more time to stay in place, that deadline is currently being challenged in court by real estate groups and property owners across the nation. Whether the new federal moratorium stays in place is to be determined, but at the state level, Governor Pritzker has yet to make a decision on whether he will extend the state’s eviction moratorium, which currently prevents final eviction trials and judgments in court for covered persons. The moratorium is due to be renewed or expire on August 21.

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