Matchbox Twenty frontman Rob Thomas apologized for a questionable joke he made during a performance in Melbourne, Australia over the weekend. The comments in question, seen above, took place as he was speaking to the crowd about how he dealt with the long flight on his way to the show.
"When you get on the plane on your way here, you start drinking. And then I drink till I think I'm Australian. And then I keep drinking till I think I'm a black Australian."
The comment was met by the crowd with a mixed reaction of laughs and groans, to which Thomas replied, "Don't be racist," before continuing:
"And then I drink until I think I'm a pretty little girl. And then my wife starts to get worried about me and I stop drinking for a minute."
After some backlash, Thomas posted a message on Facebook addressing the comments he made, stating first, "Please understand that I did not intend to make a joke ABOUT race." He continued:
"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."
Thomas went on to explain that when he said to the crowd "Don't be racist," during the exchange, "I was so ignorant to the situation that when I heard people groan I actually thought THEY were being racist," adding, "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."
Excessive drinking has recently been an increasing problem among Indigenous communities in the country.
Watching the entirety of the clip, it is fairly easy to see both how offensive the comments could be taken and how Thomas might've thought them innocent enough. But understanding his mistake, Thomas concluded his apology with a vow to be better moving forward.
"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!"
Thomas' tour continues through Australia until March 6, giving him plenty of time to make good on that promise.