Racial Lenses


Advancements in technology have played and important role in spreading information and transforming media. Lately the integration of augmented and virtual reality has been gaining traction in the social media and technology world. Racial Lenses uses the social media platform Snapchat to create an interactive piece about racism and the reality of it for those it affects.

Racial Lenses was created using Snapchat’s augmented reality building program that allows users to upload their own designs to the social media platform. I took advantage of this tool by creating an augmeted reality lens that shows racial statistics such as; the percentage of black Americans more likely to get stopped by police than white Americans, and thoughts that may appear in the mind of someone whom the impact of racism affects. For example, the user would see augmented reality text of thoughts like “I’m in a predominately white neighborhood, will someone call the cops and have me arrested or killed for being black?” Statistics and location traction is based on New York City statistics, and recent apparent racially targeted incidents.

I chose a social media platform with location-based augmented reality and filter because it’s an app that can easily be recorded, shared, and viewed, by many users. People who don’t have to deal with racism can put themselves in the perspective of someone who does. Even as simple as worrying about being in a certain area and not being viewed as suspicious because of the color of their skin.



For this project, I researched racial data, and surprising facts that affected people of color in the United States. Such as: how much more likely an African American male is likely to get arrested than a white male. I used these general statistics in areas that frequent a number of tourists and received lots of foot traffic. Ideally someone visiting this point of interest would turn to social media app, Snapchat and have access to this "lens". Below I demo the lenses at NYC's Bryant Park.

The following video was taken on April 5th, 2018, a day after a black man was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn's Crown Height's neighborhood. In light of the many recent police brutality cases, I chose to place a filter on this area to highlight how black people are still being targeted and killed irrationally in present day society. Citing recent spikes of gentrification in these neighborhoods, I hope to reach privileged audiences who do not have to feel fear of being killed unnecessarily by simply being a certain skin color.

Another demo filmed in the location of the infamous Eric Garner case. Garner was also a black man killed in the hands of police, who put him a choke hold after attempting to arrest him for selling cigarettes at this Staten Island park.