Op-ed: Snapchat – back at it again with the offensive lens choices

Shelby Mumford May 17, 2016 Comments Off on Op-ed: Snapchat – back at it again with the offensive lens choices
Op-ed: Snapchat – back at it again with the offensive lens choices
Freshmen Ella Tollman and Chloe Davenport are shocked to see the recent updates the application Snapchat has added. Recent additions include a baby for Mother's Day and a Taco for Cinco de Mayo. Photographer: Shelby Mumford '16.

Dear Snapchat,

It hasn’t been long since I’ve last written you, and I am beyond disappointed that I have to do this yet again.

Along with a flower crown and a tomato, one Snapchat’s more recent filters was Bob Marley. No, the filter is not just Marley’s iconic rastacap and dreadlocks, but your company had the gall to add a racial overlay to the user’s face.

Snapchat users are now giving themselves a digitized version of Blackface.

Cybele Zhang '18 tests the Bob Marley lens, which lightens the pigment of Marley's black skin based on the color of the users skin.

Cybele Zhang ’18 tests the Bob Marley lens, which lightens the pigment of Marley’s black skin based on the color of the user’s skin.

According to CNNMoney, you claimed that the idea was “built in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate” and the lens “gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music.”

Please help me understand how an idea like this can be passed down through several parts of a company and not be stopped. I would assume you have people on your staff who are sensible enough to know the ramifications of Blackface before its release.

But back to the part about appreciating Bob Marley and his music — I do not see how it is the least bit necessary to incorporate the color of his skin. He is an iconic figure in the music industry, and people have found ways to honor him without being racist.

I understand that people want to commit to their love for a figure, but it certainly does not mean that they have a free pass to ignore common sense.

Additionally, I am absolutely appalled by your decision to celebrate the unofficial holiday 4/20 in such an offensive manner. Celebrating the day at all frankly doesn’t make sense to me. Why has our society decided it would be a fun idea to dedicate a day to a drug?

April 20th has been unofficially declared “Weed Day” by many people who use recreational drugs.

Shelby Mumford '16 uses the Bob Marley Snapchat lens that was released April 20.

Shelby Mumford ’16 uses the Bob Marley Snapchat lens that was released April 20. Photographer: Shelby Mumford ’16

If your goal was to appreciate Bob Marley, why did you release the lens on the very specific, and very obvious April 20th?

Yes. Everybody is aware that Mr. Marley smoked weed, but he was more than that. He was an artist and activist who has unified people through his music.

Using him as a symbol for 4/20 diminishes all of his work.

Some might say the past is in the past, but I hope that this will be another learning experience for you.

Sincerely,

A brown-eyed girl

P.S. I have brown skin too. And I have to say, it was super weird to see myself in someone else’s skin. Sure, I’m black too, but come on.

As much as I like you, I do not want to have to write to you again.

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