ABC journalist Jeremy Fernandez, who was racially abused on a Sydney bus in frint of his two year old daughter, NEWS photo: Marco Del Grande on 8th. February, 2013

Racially abused in front of his daughter … Jeremy Fernandez said the incident motivated him to think about ''what sort of lessons I need to be teaching her''. Photo: Marco Del Grande

IT STARTED with harmless child's play in the back seats of a Sydney bus.

But the ABC newsreader Jeremy Fernandez said he became the target of racial abuse on his Friday morning commute when a woman called him a ''black c---'' after a slight disagreement about her child's behaviour.

Racism is not new to Malaysian-born Fernandez, who said he was abused every few months.

''It's something you deal with and move on from pretty easily. But this was the first time I've been racially abused in front of my daughter,'' Fernandez said.

''It really threw a different aspect onto what was taking place and got me thinking about what sort of lessons I need to be teaching her, sadly, about the world that she lives in.

''I can absolutely vouch for the fact that while it's totally a minority of people, hate and racism still exists.''

On his way from Marrickville to Ultimo, Fernandez said he sat at the back of the State Transit Authority bus with his two-year-old daughter Emerson, when another little girl started flicking her.

''It was completely harmless, no big deal. I turned to the little girl and I said 'Darling, that was my arm you just flicked'. I'd put a protective arm around my daughter because she was recoiling a bit.''

The girl's mother started spraying abuse, accusing him of touching her daughter inappropriately, he said.

''But it very quickly went to her calling me a black c---, go back to whatever country I came from … she raised a fist to my face a few times and said that I'd better get off the bus or move.''

After taking 15 minutes of vitriol from the woman, the driver pulled over and told Fernandez to get off the bus, he said.

But Fernandez thought of Rosa Parks - an African American civil rights activist in Alabama who refused to obey a bus driver's direction to give her seat to a white person - and decided to stay.

''I said, 'I'm not going anywhere because she's just called me a black c--- and I have every right to stay in this seat on this bus and I'm not moving'.''

Fernandez said one other passenger told the woman several times to stop and others said they would be happy to speak to the police.

The abuse left him shaken and he tweeted about the incident, attracting thousands of messages of support. ''People have just been so, so, so wonderful. I think it really illustrates the character of this city and this country that people in some form were willing to step up.''

Fernandez said a spokesman for the STA had apologised, and he didn't want the bus driver to lose his job.

In a statement, the authority said it expected drivers to be courteous, and for passengers to behave respectfully.

Fernandez's story drew comparisons to a similar incident on a Melbourne bus last year when a French woman was targeted in a racist attack, called a c--- and a dog for singing in her native tongue.

with Megan Levy