A 16-year-old named Caleb Kennedy recently made it into the Top 5 on American Idol. Fans of the show may be surprised when there is only a Top 4 remaining on this coming Sunday’s episode. Caleb Kennedy is no longer part of the contest after an old video surfaced. The video was recorded when the teenager was 12 years old. In the three-second post, Caleb Kennedy shows himself and then flashes the camera to the side, showing his friend in a hood that looks just like a Ku Klux Klan outfit. The former contestant took to his Instagram account to apologize and announce that he would no longer be on Idol. His mother, Anita Guy, has been interviewed and says that the situation is unfair because it’s been taken out of context. ABC has confirmed that Caleb Kennedy is no longer a contestant, though they haven’t commented on the situation.
The video of the former American Idol contestant came from Snapchat and only surfaced a few days ago. You can still currently see it on Twitter. When it first popped up, people were saying that Caleb Kennedy was blocking anyone who messaged him mentioning it. Now that the teenager is no longer on the show, he has addressed the situation on his verified Instagram account. You can read his post below.
Some of his fans have been supportive and commended the former American Idol contestant for simply acknowledging the problem with the video and that he needs to work on himself. Others are more focused on the statements made by his mother. While Caleb Kennedy himself has posted the Instagram apology, his mom is saying this video is being taken out of context. This is a bold claim, because the kid in the video is wearing very much what looks like a KKK hood.
So, what kind of context explains away a KKK-styled mask? Well, the former American Idol contestant’s mother says that at the time of the video, the kids had just watched The Strangers: Prey at Night. They didn’t have that kind of mask, and so what they put on just looks like the kind of hood. Below is a picture of the killer from the horror movie she says the kid in the Snapchat video was impersonating.
Of course, that mask looks nothing like a Ku Klux Klan hood. While you could maybe explain away the pointed top of the hood that the child is wearing in the video as simply what was available, if they were trying to look like the killer in The Strangers: Prey at Night, they likely would have drawn on the mouth with a black marker. That may have given more merit to the context claims. Since Caleb Kennedy has already been canceled from American Idol, his Instagram post seems like the best way to handle the situation. Apologizing and acknowledging the racism the hood symbolizes is respectable. Defending the video with context claims may make the situation worse.
Whatever the situation surrounding the original video, Caleb Kennedy is no longer on American Idol. The reality television series was recently renewed again at ABC, marking its fifth year on the network and its 20th season overall. The series averages 9.4 million viewers.