By Cryss Walker

(CBS DETROIT) – A viral painting is selling out all over the world for its message that depicts the white-washing of black history and now that message is bringing a controversial topic to the forefront.

“So, the title of the piece is Critical Race Theory,” said Detroit Artist Jonathan Harris.

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“I have Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman and Malcolm X right there and then I have this Caucasian figure covering them up. This Caucasian figure actually represents America.”

Critical Race Theory includes the study of systemic white supremacy, which dives into topics like the United States Slave Trade, Jim Crow, segregation and other forms of organized racism against black people.

It don’t have to be, you know, war because we feel how we feel, and you feel how you feel,” Harris said.

“You know it can just be we gone meet in the middle and just have a conversation about it.”

Many school districts and state legislatures across the country are pushing to skip that part of history and outlaw it from being taught in classrooms.

As the topic began to pick-up steam, Harris took to his canvass to draft what that looks like, to him.

Well, these characters at the top, of course they’re not being covered up now or being taken away out of the curriculum now, but my fear is that like in the future, like generations to come they may, they may be taken out of the curriculum,” Harris explained.

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The “Critical Race Theory” painting premiered at the Irwin House Art Gallery in Detroit last month.

That’s when the image caught wind of the public and went viral on social media.

I just seen all of the shares and comments and things,” Harris said.

“It was just a huge surprise.”

Harris says he wants to use his influence as an artist to illustrate today’s climate.

I want people to think about how changing the curriculum of history being taught in schools can affect the future,” Harris continued.


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