To celebrate National Weed Day (April 20th) Snapchat launched a Bob Marley filter which superimpose the skin colour and facial features of the Jamaican artist on the Snapchat users-with added Rastafarian hat and dreadlocks. The filter has been accused of blackface, as well reducing the Jamaican artist to just a guy who smoked weed.
National Weed Day is celebrated on April 20th (or 4/20) which is the biggest single-day celebration of marijuana. Vox has tried to explain why it’s held on April 20th, because there are several theories.
Snapchat jumped on the bandwagon by launching a Marley filter which has been accused of blackface- which recalls a practice in the early 19th century where people performed racist caricatures of black people using greasepaint.
People are angry about the Snapchat filter not just because it’s racist — they’re also accusing Snapchat of reducing Marley to simply a weed icon, when in reality he was much more.
Snapchat’s Bob Marley filter looks even more racist on a picture Bob Marley pic.twitter.com/1nSw41rZY3
— Jason Lederman (@JasonOnTheAir) April 20, 2016
— Jack Qu’emi (@jackquemi) April 20, 2016
Snapchat has made a “Bob Marley” filter for 4/20? Lol don’t reduce the brother’s legacy to nothing more than a weed mascot for white hippies
— Jordan Rose (@ZER0DayVirus) April 20, 2016
This Bob Marley snapchat filter today makes me uncomfortable
— B (@TweetsByBilal) April 20, 2016
Did @Snapchat REALLY think it would be a good idea to introduce a black face Bob Marley filter?
— Dean (@deanvictorr) April 20, 2016
my issue with the bob marley filter is not even that its black face but rather they’re summing up his life to just 4/20
— ALMTY BAM (@MrVicBam) April 20, 2016
Somehow snapchat always figures out a way to out snapchat itself. Can’t they hire ONE adult who’s like no, nope no blackface this morning no
— Nellie Bowles (@NellieBowles) April 20, 2016
All the things Bob Marley did, stood/fought for, & accomplished, & he’s reduced to just a weed symbol for stoners. Amazing.
— Lé Cocoapuff (@RespectTheAfro_) April 20, 2016
but of course Kylie Jenner used that terrible Bob Marley Snapchat filter pic.twitter.com/3Ieoz48ust
— Elena Cresci (@elenacresci) April 20, 2016
In an email to Fortune, Snapchat defended the decision saying: “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.”