Oh, Rob Thomas...ye patron saint of the moody white boys from the 90s/early 2000s everywhere. Do you remember when you were relevant? I kind of do. The memories are pretty vague. I had Yourself Or Someone Like You
on cassette back in 1996. Side A was pretty great but the bland angst rock of Side B and the rest of Matchbox Twenty's discography relegated you to nostalgia tours and to be the butt of all of the non-Nickelback/non-Creed post-grunge jokes of the last twenty years. I will give you credit for the song with Santana though. "Smooth" was pretty dope.
But now you've done f***ed up. Rob Thomas was playing a show in Australia recently
when he said something...uncouth. Thomas didn't simply make a joke that was in poor taste. He made one that was 100% racist.
If you aren't particularly versed in Australian history, here's a quick lesson. When white people came to Australia, it was primarily so that England could found a penal colony. The UK's colonization of Australia eventually expanded into a full-blown nation with independence from the UK (though they are still technically a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as their powerless monarch). And at every step of this colonization of Australia, the nation's aboriginal population (and the aboriginal population of New Zealand) were displaced and oppressed in a manner as brutal and devastating as the United States' treatment of its own native population.
And on stage at Rob Thomas' show, he made a quip about being so drunk that he thought he was an Aussie and then he followed up by saying he was so drunk that he thought he was a black Aussie. There's so much to unpack here. The first joke is harmless enough. It's not funny, but whatever...if Thomas wants to imply that he has a drinking problem so severe that he forgets his own nationality, it's bearable. But even if Australia had no aboriginal population of black natives, Rob...you are the whitest white boy that ever white boyed. Your only competition is Jason Mraz and those dudes that have video blogs about vaping while wearing fedoras. From one white boy to another, making jokes about being drunk and thinking you're black aren't funny. They're over the line.
But the joke goes to an entirely new place because Australia does have a native black population and there is a long standing racial stereotype about Australia's aboriginal population and alcoholism (much like the stereotype about America's native population and alcoholism). And while Thomas has apologized for his remarks (see above link for the full details of Thomas's apology) claiming that he didn't know the history of Australia's racial tensions, that's only a first step. Thomas needs to do something more to make amends. Perhaps he could donate to any of these aboriginal focused charities
. Cause, come on, Rob Thomas, you've got to be better than this.