Rob Thomas should probably think before he speaks ...
While performing in Melbourne, Australia on Feb. 19, the former Matchbox 20 singer got himself into some hot water when he made some off-color remarks about Aboriginal Australians.
During the show, the singer chatted with the audience about drinking on his flight over. Rob joked, "I drink 'til I think I'm Australian." To which, the crowd responded with laughter. Unfortunately he took the joke further and said, "And then I keep drinking 'til I think I'm a black Australian." And that's when the crowd turned. There was a collective groan and even some booing.
Many have taken to the Internet to express their distaste for the performer's comment, calling them "racist" and "ignorant."
Carly Findlay, an Australian writer and activist who was in the audience, took to her Facebook page to express her dismay, writing, "This has disappointed me incredibly. He's a good guy - a caring husband, animal rescuer, beautiful writer, seasoned performer, and regular visitor here. That's why I'm so shocked."
She continued, "I hope during his tour, Rob Thomas can meet with an Aboriginal community, apologise for his racism and learn - so his knowledge and perceptions about black Australia can be rectified."
It seems as if the negative feedback got back to Rob. Hours later, he posted a public apology on his Facebook account that read, "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."
The 44-year-old continued, "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."
Rob's next show in OZ is slated for Feb. 20 in Melbourne. In addition, the singer has eight more shows lined up on the Australian leg of his tour. Hopefully he can manage to not offend anyone and just sing some songs.