Singer Rob Thomas apologized on social media Sunday for comments he made during a performance in Australia that many people from the country found to be racially insensitive.
Thomas, 44, was caught on camera making a remark about black Australians during his show in Melbourne on Friday, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“I drink till I think I’m Australian,” Thomas started. “And then keep drinking till I’m a black Australian.”
The audience immediately booed Thomas for the comment. Initial reaction in Austrailia is that the remark was an insult aimed at Aboriginals in the country.
But that was not Thomas’s intent, according to his Facebook post on Sunday.
I would like to take an opportunity to further explain the comments I made in Melbourne last night,” Thomas wrote. “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 Matchbox Twenty frontman said he was just trying to make a joke about his own drinking.
“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. If I had any idea of the stereotype I would have chosen another example. There was absolutely no malice even in jest.”
Thomas said he became emotional when he finally realized what he had done.
“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 its own. I sat in my room and I cried when I found out.”
Thomas promised fans at the end of his post that he would “rectify” his error by taking steps to better understand and learn about Austrailian culture.
For the most part, fans have responded warmly to Thomas’s apology on his Facebook.
“Thank you for your sincere apology Rob,” wrote a fan named Carlay Findlay. “I was shocked by the comment, and did expect more from you. I made public comments about how disappointed I felt, as a 19-20 year long fan. But I am very glad to read you’re going to take time to learn about Aboriginal culture while you’re here.”
Thomas replied to Findlay’s post and said he was “sincere” in wanting to become better educated about Austrailia.
Thomas has six shows remaining on his 2016 Austrailian tour, which ends March 2 in Perth.