April 20, 2016 10:36 am

Snapchat users outraged over Bob Marley ‘4/20’ filter that looks like blackface

(AP Photo/ David McFadden, File)
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Snapchat is facing major backlash online for its 4/20-themed Bob Marley filter – it appears to give users blackface.

4/20 – otherwise known as April 20 – marks the worldwide celebration of marijuana culture, something Marley was quite involved in. The filter, which users can apply to any of their photo or video messages, is designed to make users look like the iconic musician – dreadlocks and all.

However, it also superimposes Marley’s face over the users, which some users allege looks like “digital blackface.”

Blackface – painting your face in an apparent attempt to pretend to be African American – is widely considered racist, a relic of 19th Century American minstrelsy, in which white people blackened their faces and portrayed a dehumanized caricature of black people.

READ MORE: Is blackface ever ok? Australian athlete’s photo reignites debate

Aaisha Dadi Patel, writer for South Africa’s Daily Vox, said “the filter is a form of blackface, cultural appropriation, and totally problematic. As we’ve written before, blackface is nothing other than a form of dress-up. It is offensive. This is a caricature of a black person.”

“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,” the article continues.

Despite growing outrage on Twitter, Snapchat has yet to publicly comment on the controversial filter.

Global News contacted Snapchat for a comment regarding it and whether or not they plan to take it down. A Snapchat spokesperson responded with a statement that read, “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.”

At time of publishing, the filter remained active within Snapchat.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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