Snapchat Under Fire for 420 Filter Celebrating Bob Marley with “Digital Blackface”

We’re not sure what the folks at Snapchat are smoking, but best be sure that their buzz is quickly fading.

The photo messaging app is under fire after releasing a 420-themed filter that allows users to digitally impose Bob Marley’s dreadlocks, signature hat and face onto their own.

Many took to Twitter to criticize Snapchat for racial insensitivity, calling the selfie lens “digital blackface.” Others pointed out that by releasing the filter on 4/20, Snapchat has reduced Marley’s musical legacy to that of a stoner.

“This 420 celebration glosses over the cultural significance that cannabis has in the Rasta culture, where it is regarded as extremely sacred, and not just something used for a daily kickback,” Aaisha Dadi Patel wrote in a piece for South Africa’s Daily Vox. “But besides that, Snapchat is reducing the legacy of a musical great to smoking weed.”

A spokesperson for Snapchat responded to Buzzfeed’s request for a comment with the following statement: “The lens we launched today was created in partnership with the Bob Marley estate, and gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements.”

 (Cover Image by Joe Schaefer) 

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