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Our Family Tree | Jason Talbot | Be the Change Boston 2022

By Jewish Arts Collaborative

Published Feb 13, 2023



This Curation is part of Be the Change.

Explore the full collection

Our Family Tree

Artist Statement:

As a young man, I grew to be 6 feet tall. Being a big black man in Boston, my father worried about me because of his own experiences with the police. He was right to worry. I was targeted, harassed, assaulted, detained, and ultimately thoroughly traumatized. The worst part for me was that I was a pretty good kid trying my best to avoid the gangs and drugs surrounding me. I was working towards a bright future but was punished by the police for my appearance. It appeared I was on a one-way street leading toward incarceration. It was hard to stay optimistic when I was being targeted by both criminals and the police.


Jason Talbot is a co-founder and alumnus of Artists For Humanity (AFH), a Boston area non-profit organization that combines art and entrepreneurship to address today’s most challenging social, economic, and racial issues. The largest employer of Boston teens, AFH provides some of the city’s most under-resourced youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in the arts. Currently serving as the Director of Fine Art Entrepreneurship and member of AFH’s Board of Directors, Jason has dedicated the last 32 years of his life ensuring that Boston’s young people are guided towards a successful life by encouraging their self-expression through art. Jason’s reach in the Boston area extends beyond the walls of AFH. In 2012, Jason was chosen as one of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders, and the following year he received the Mentor of the Year Award from Youth Design. Jason is a member of WGBH’s Board of Advisors, and in 2021, he attended the Arts & Cultural Organization Management course at Harvard Business School. Jason is also still producing his own brand of visionary street art.

Be the Change Walking Tour Recording: Jason Talbot

(2 min) Listen to Jason Talbot describe his piece for the Be the Change Walking Tour.

Discussion: Hate Crimes, Antisemitism, and Racial Bias

(1 hr 26 min) An online discussion featuring 2 of the 6 Boston-based Be the Change artists, Caron Tabb and Jason Talbot, in conversation with leading experts Rabbi Menachem Creditor, and Ruth Messinger.


Ruth Messinger is the former President and CEO of American Jewish World Service and an icon of the social justice movement.


Rabbi Menachem Creditor is the Pearl and Ira Meyer Scholar-in-Residence at UJA-Federation New York and founder of Rabbis Against Gun Violence.


Robert Trestan is the Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office where he oversees the League’s fundraising, program initiatives and leadership development.

Our Family Tree

Above: A close-up of the handcuffs in the tree structure.


Learn more about Be the Change and check out other work from Be the Change Boston 2022:

Zoongide’e – Nayana LaFond

Healing Garden – Ngoc-Tran Vu

It’s Giving – Sam Mendoza Fraiman

Prisoner a-7713 – Caron Tabb

Vital Organs – Carolyn Lewenberg


JArts’ mission is to curate, celebrate, and build community around the diverse world of Jewish arts, culture, and creative expression. Our vision is of a more connected, engaged, and tolerant world inspired by Jewish arts and culture. Learn more at jartsboston.org.


Racial Bias in the Criminal Justice System

As of 2001, one of every three Black boys born in that year could expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as could one of every six Latinos—compared to one of every seventeen White boys. Racial and ethnic disparities among women are less substantial than among men but remain prevalent.

African Americans were incarcerated in local jails at a rate 3.5 times that of non-Hispanic White people in 2016.

 Although African Americans and Latinos comprise 29% of the U.S. population, they make up 57% of the U.S. prison population. 

Prosecutors are more likely to charge people of color with crimes that carry heavier sentences than white people. Federal prosecutors, for example, are twice as likely to charge African Americans with offenses that carry a mandatory minimum sentence than similarly situated white people.

 Source: “Report to the United Nations on Racial Disparities in the U.S. Criminal Justice System”. April 29, 2019.

Black Americans are more likely than White Americans to be arrested. Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted, and once convicted, they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences. What do you think are some of the causes of this inequity and how can it be rectified?

Try to imagine that you were targeted by the justice system because of how you look. How would that make you feel? What impact would it have on your life?

Many experts have identified changes to policing policies that can help address this issue. How can you hold your local elected officials and police departments accountable?

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