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'American Idol'

Accused of RACISM

by 9 Black Ex-Contestants

1/25/2013 7:00 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Nine black former "American Idol" contestants -- from various seasons -- are banding together to SUE the show ... claiming they were all FORCED off "Idol" as part of a racist (and illegal) plot to boost ratings. 

TMZ has obtained a letter, submitted to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by NY attorney James H. Freeman -- in which he asks for permission to sue Idol and FOX on behalf of his clients ... who have all appeared on the show: FYI, Freeman is required to file with the EEOC before filing suit.

Corey Clark (Season 2), Jaered Andrews (Season 2), Donnie Williams (Season 3), Terrell Brittenum (Season 5), Derrell Brittenum (Season 5), Thomas Daniels (Season 6), Akron Watson (Season 6), Ju'Not Joyner (Season 8) and Chris Golightly (Season 9).

In his letter, Freeman claims he noticed something fishy about "Idol" when Jermaine Jones was kicked off on March 15, 2012. Producers had claimed Jones failed to inform them about multiple outstanding warrants out for his arrest. 

Freeman claims he conducted an investigation into the show -- and found that producers had only publicly disqualified 9 other people from the show since it first hit the air ... and they all happened to be black.

Freeman now alleges that "Idol" has been conducting a "cruel and inhumane" scheme to exploit and humiliate black contestants for ratings.

According to the letter, Freeman believes the annual "scheme" begins during the background check stage of the show -- when producers ask wannabe contestants the question -- "Have you ever been arrested?"

Freeman claims the question is a violation of CA employment law ... and since his clients were essentially applying for "employment" with Idol, the show was FORBIDDEN from asking contestants about their arrest history.

But Freeman claims ... the ill-gotten information from the question, coupled with arrest records obtained by private investigators working for Idol, were used to humiliate the black Idol contestants on national TV ... and in the process, perpetuated "destructive stereotypes" about black people.

Freeman also claims the show made his clients appear to be "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants" ... when they weren't.

What's more ... Freeman claims the show has "NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production."

According to Freeman, NONE of the contestants who were disqualified from the show based on their criminal backgrounds were convicted of the crimes for which they were charged at the time of their disqualification.

But Freeman adds, "Yet their personal and professional lives remain permanently and severely impaired by [the show's] continuing violations of our nation's laws."

Freeman's letter is the first step towards a lawsuit -- and we're told as soon as he gets the green light from the EEOC, he plans to file the docs in court.

We spoke to "Idol" honcho Nigel Lythgoe ... who tells us he was "shocked" by the "ridiculous" allegations.

He explained, "We treat everybody the same ... no matter the race, religion or sex."

"I think we've always had a fantastic share of talent from contestants both black and white ... I don't think I've ever seen racism at the show."

A rep for FOX declined to comment.

FYI -- "Idol" has had 3 African-American winners in its history -- Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.


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OMG IF I didn't win, it's obviously because I'm BLACK!!

When will someone make a law that says anyone using this allegation without solid proof is subject to jail time?

615 days ago

Truth and Reality    

Gonna be a long day in court when AI produces thousands of black and Latino contestants who were truthful about their arrest record and didn't get booted. They shouldn't have lied. also you don't enter into a contract with the show unless you make it into the top 12 its just an audition until that point.

615 days ago


N@gga be good... and n@gga not get in trouble! Simple as that!

615 days ago


What a world we live in.

615 days ago


Dear Black people ... you have your caucus, BET, and your food stamp president.. keep asking for handouts and keep lowering the standard of the community. Real Talk. Why these fools acting like they need a helping hand and can't accept their responsibilities of failing to keep it together. They are an embarrassment as is Barack Obama.

Not all black people do this sh1t. These s*** just need their $$$ so they can go back to paying for their 10 kids and bail bonds. Total bullsh1t.
These subhumans need to get it together. No wonder sh1t ain't ever gonna change.
Go back to school, earn your way, learn, and give to the community. All these n1ggaz do is take, take, take... me, me, me.... check african-american in the box and get your affirmative action.

615 days ago


Just like The First 48 is racist, right? It's not the show's fault these hoodlums didn't make the right choices. They make up 30% of the population, but commit 90% of all violent crimes. Sounds like maybe they need to practice better morals, rather than trying to be the next Lil' Wayne.

615 days ago


Minorities create their own sterotypes by their actions . . .

615 days ago

Meme Jones    

Oh "brother".LOL

615 days ago


The reason AI "NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production" is because whites and non-blacks don't have lengthy criminal records like blacks.

615 days ago


tell it to the president . . .

615 days ago


Sweet jesus...gve me a f'ing break!! They are disgruntled crybabies from seasons going back 10 friggin years who didnt win and are probably tired of flipping burgers and want a cash grab. STOP WITH THE RACIST SH*T.....GO SUE QUENTIN TARTINO FOR MAKING A BLACK SLAVE MOVIE....YOU LOSERS!!

615 days ago


Middle American TV audience doesn't't want to watch a black person win something, that seems soooo far fetched.

615 days ago


Why do black poeple have to be such s***bags and use the raciat card all the time? Its getting old...YOU are the ones holding your people down.

615 days ago


He lied, no case here

615 days ago


Seriously people, you reap what you sow. Stay out of trouble and you won't have to worry about being judged for your trouble. Now... if AI found similar criminal history on WHITE people but let them PASS... that's f-ed up. So that'd be the real question: did they ignore similar infractions for whites? I suspect that question will be asked/answered soon!

615 days ago
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