ABC NEWS presenter Jeremy Fernandez has received an outpouring of community support after being racially abused in front of his young daughter on a bus in Sydney’s inner west.
Mr Fernandez revealed on Twitter on Friday morning that he was “called a black c*** & told to go back to my country” in a 15-minute-long rant from a female passenger on the 412 bus from Marrickville in Sydney’s inner west.
He told AAP he was not planning to make any formal complaint to the NSW State Transit Authority but “they’ve assured me they’re going to review their training procedures”.
At one point during the racist tirade the bus driver told him to move to the front of the vehicle, he said.
Mr Fernandez described his decision to stay put as his “Rosa Parks moment”.
(Rosa Parks was a black woman in the US who ignited the civil rights movement in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat in the coloured section of a racially segregated bus to a white man, after all the seats reserved for whites were filled.)
“The driver told me to move and I said, `No, I’ve got every right to be here,'” Mr Fernandez told AAP.
“In retrospect … he was probably afraid of this woman. She was clearly volatile.”
But he added that when it was safe to do so, bus drivers should intervene when their passengers became abusive.
“The woman was calling me a pedophile and trying to involve other passengers,” he said.
“I told him, `You’re a captain of a bus, these people are in your charge.'”
Mr Fernandez said he had “copped racism before” but was disgusted that the woman would attack him in front of his toddler, whom he tried to shelter from the vitriol by blocking her ears, as well as the woman’s own school-aged children.
“It’s pretty rough and I did actually say that to her, `I can’t believe you’re carrying on like this in front of your kids and in front of mine,'” he said.
“For me it was about being stoic and holding my nerve, and certainly keeping my seat on the bus as I had a right to do.”
Since the incident, support has flowed for the newsreader, with one tweet stating: “Terrible. So sad you had to go through that, especially with your child witnessing :(.”
Another tweeter called the incident “appalling”, before advising Mr Fernandez to “Report the bus driver”.
“So sorry this happened to you and your daughter,” the tweet reads.
Mr Fernandez had taken to Twitter to vent his disgust at the incident.
“It’s a sad thing when a coloured man in 2013 has to show his kid how to hold their nerve in the face of racist taunts,” he tweeted.
State Transit said all passengers were expected to “behave in a respectful manner to each other”.
“We also expect our drivers to be courteous and respectful to passengers. This is conveyed in bus driver training,” it said in a statement.
“If an incident of anti-social behaviour such as this occurs, the bus driver may try to intervene and ask the passenger to leave the bus.
“If required, the driver can contact a supervisor via radio and organise for police to meet the bus.” – AAP