American Idol finalist Caleb Kennedy has left the current Season 19 series after a racially insensitive resurfaced online. In the video, Caleb appears to be filming himself and another individual wearing what appears to be a Klu Klux Klan hood with the word ‘bow’ featured on the screen.
While ABC or American Idol is yet to release an official statement about his release, the 16-year-old singer issued a statement on Instagram announcing that he is no longer participating in the singing competition.
“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” he wrote, adding that the KKK-themed video was taken out of context.
“There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse.”
In the statement, the country singer apologized to his fans and announced that he is taking a break from social media.
“I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down. I’ll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me. I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me.”
Caleb’s mother claims son was imitating a movie
Caleb’s family told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal that the video was recorded when he was 12. Anita Guy, the mother of the former American Idol contestant, claims that the controversial video had no racial intent and her son was imitating characters from a movie.
“I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online,” Guy said.
“This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night and they were imitating those characters. It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that’s how it looks. Caleb doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races.”
The Strangers: Prey at Night is an American slasher film that was released in March 2018 when Caleb would have been 13 years old. The movie does not feature or reference a character in a Klu Klux Klan hood.
Kennedy is a high-school student from Roebuck in South Carolina and was born on October 21, 2004.
The controversial clip shows Caleb in a blue t-shirt and black cap sitting next to an individual who appears to be wearing a KKK hood. The video features the word ‘bow’ written on the screen along with the caption: ‘oh my’ at the bottom of the video.
Caleb Kennedy was in the top five remaining contestants on American Idol. The previously booted contestant will not return and the series will proceed with the remaining finalists, Willie Spence, Grace Kinstler, Chayce Beckham, and Casey Bishop.