Minorities matter and they will be heard
A little over a year ago, April 20, 2016, Snapchat came out with a new filter. It was a lens of a person who resembled Bob Marley. This lens warped the user’s eyes and nose as well as darkened their skin tone.
The backlash of this Snapchat stunt instantaneously occurred. Media users all over the web expressed how they felt snapchat was recreating a digital version of blackface. This was a major issue and crime that came about in the 19th century, in an effort to mock African American people. People would paint their faces black in different theatric venues and it was very offensive to African Americans.
Snapchat came out with a statement stating, “Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements. [The lens] gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music.”
This could have been a good conclusion for Snapchat to draw to, except for one major aspect, which was the timing of this filter or lens. This filter was added to snapchat on 4/20, which is also known as annual “weed day.” This made people draw to the conclusion that Snapchat was in fact not doing it in respect of Bob Marley and his music like they said. Instead, it appeared that Snapchat was doing it only in light of 4/20 and in that case the public was only seeing it as blackface not in respect of the singer.
This isn’t the only time that Snapchat has presented filters that have transformed users’ faces into other minority enthnic groups. This is definitely not a good tactic in general for Snapchat to take part in. Minorities may be the smaller portion of a population, but they are often some of the loudest as well. What matters to them is going to be heard especially when it comes to racism.
Snapchat should have been more careful about this issue. They offended many of their users and they did not think of all the conclusions that could have been drawn about this lens. Where they tried to state that this was done to represent the artist and his work, they really didn’t have enough evidence leaning towards that, so they shouldn’t have tried to make excuses. Instead, they should have admitted their faults and apologized for not seeing that other, underlying meaning behind what they did.