Rob Thomas Apologizes After Trying To Make A Joke About Black Australians
"I’m sitting here in my hotel room completely gutted."
Singer Rob Thomas has caught a bit of heat after making a joke about black Australians during a concert in Melbourne.
"When you get on the plane on your way here, you start drinking," Thomas said. "And then I drink until I think I'm Australian. And then I keep drinking until I think I'm a black Australian."
Immediately after, the audience erupted into a smattering of laughs and a whole lot of boos:
Yeah, people were not pleased.
And from the comments, it seems like many people have forgiven him:
After the show in Melbourne tonight while backstage with some of my Australian friends, it was brought to my attention that I said something that is racist and insensitive.
Please understand that although it is no excuse, I was completely unaware that in Australia there is a polarizing social issue happening right now involving indigenous people and alcohol.
When I was made aware of it, the ground fell out beneath me, and I realized that people may now see me as the exact opposite of who I am.
I'm sitting here in my hotel room completely gutted that a joke that I made was much more relevant to the times in Australia than I realized.
I know that words are just words, but to those I offended, I deeply, DEEPLY apologize!
Everyone who knows me is aware that for the past 20 years I have been a fervent supporter of civil rights, so I am incredibly embarrassed by my ignorance.
I feel like a fool and apologize to all Australians.
I would like to take an opportunity to further explain the comments I made in Melbourne last night.
First, please understand that I did not intend to make a joke ABOUT race. I have seen people comment that after coming here for so long I should know that there is a connection between the indigenous peoples of Australia and a stereotype involving drinking. Embarrassingly, I truly didn't.
The joke I made was meant to be at no one's expense but my own. I made a comment about drinking so much on the long flight over that i started to think i was something i'm not.
I said I drank until I thought I was Australian. Then I drank so much that I thought I was a black Australian and then I drank so much I thought I was a little Australian girl. These were 3 things I chose at random to represent 3 things I'm not. I'm not Australian. I'm not black and I'm not a little girl. Again, if I had any idea of the stereotype I would have chosen another example. There was absolutely no malice even in jest.
I was so ignorant to the situation that when I heard people groan I actually thought THEY were being racist. I didn't know until TODAY that just the phrase 'black Australian' was racist all on it's own. I sat in my room and I cried when I found out.
If I had said it anywhere in the world my intention would have been the same. To relate 3 seemingly unrelated things that I'm not. Things that have no connection to any stereotypes whatsoever.
I am truly sorry for how this came across, most of all to the indigenous people here. Australia has been so good to me for so long that I'm embarrassed I don't know more about the history and the culture.
While I'm here I'm going to use this opportunity to rectify that. I promise you this!