There are no two ways about it, Rob Thomas really messed up at his Melbourne concert on Saturday night.
The lead singer of Matchbox 20 has spent the week trying to make reparations or, at the very least, salvage his nice guy reputation, after making an incredibly tone deaf joke about Indigenous Australians to distract from some technical difficulties.
“When you get on the plane, on your way here, you start drinking. I keep drinking until I think I’m Australian,” he told the crowd.
Sadly, he didn’t stop there…
“And then I keep drinking until I think I’m a black Australian.”
Thomas quickly realised his error (after being rightly slammed on social social media) and posted an apology on his Facebook page labelling himself a “fool” and acknowledging his ignorance about Australian history and culture, something he promised to rectify during the remainder of his visit.
One of those who called Thomas out for his comments was award-winning Aboriginal photo journalist Barbara McGrady, who asked “Have you even met an Aboriginal person?”
McGrady then suggested if he was serious about making amends for his “hurtful, ignorant and derogatory comments” he ought to invite her to photograph one of his Sydney shows.
To his credit, Thomas followed through and reached out to McGrady, who attended his concert and met with him afterwards.
According to BuzzFeed Australia, the pair, along with Thomas’ wife spoke candidly about race for more than 30 minutes, with McGrady asking him what prompted him to make such a joke in the first place.
Thomas explained that it wasn’t until someone asked him to imagine making the same joke about native Americans that he understood the gravity of what he had said.
“I’ve been coming here for 20 years and I know so little about this country and the Indigenous people and I don’t know if there is an excuse for that. When you reached out to me you offered an olive branch that made me start crying, that you were willing to speak with me,” he said.
“As horrible as it has been for a second, I have found this connection with Indigenous people.”
McGrady appeared satisfied with the explanation, telling BuzzFeed:
“I was so incensed at first, [for] this guy to come over here to my country and say these things. Having had a frank talk with him, I believe he is sorry. I thanked Rob for explaining himself and I accepted his apology and I truly believe what he said was genuine and heartfelt.”
Rob Thomas’ racist gaffe was quickly eclipsed on Sunday night, when Opals’ player Alice Kunek posted an Instagram picture of herself wearing black face.
Kunek’s apology was sadly less than “heart felt” and the discussions that followed were far from constructive: