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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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Black people are always starting **** and white people stick together on the most ridiculous ****...I wish I was hispanic

645 days ago


American idol don't like Asians either, when has an Asian won the competition?

645 days ago

young adult    

Half of you guys are missing the point. They aren't mad that they lost, they're mad at the fact that when white people get kicked off of Idol for some reason it's pretty much a five second mentioning and the show moves on but when it's a black person gets kicked off it's this whole big deal. Do I think they're going to win this lawsuit, no, but I can see their point.

645 days ago


Didn't Paula Abdul bang Corey pictured above??

645 days ago


Black people always crying about something life's just not fair to them. By the way quit stealing iPhones on the blue line trains in Chicago a$$holes!

645 days ago



645 days ago



645 days ago


Dick your a dick all races suck in more ways than one no one is better I wish I was clear

645 days ago


While a serious case can be made because of the illegal questions and seemingly pre-planned subsequent disqualifications, lost in all of this is that AI's greatest problem is its pop culture bias and musical discrimination. If you watch all the seasons the only vocal styles encouraged on the show are R&B and country. If anyone sings in any other way they are weeded out. So generations of kids are not being exposed to other types of good music. How come other shows are more diverse yet on AI there's a one trick pony agenda? Racial or ethnic bias is the tip of the iceberg. The show is meant to mold pop culture not for better but for worse. And this is why your average kid would rather listen to oldies on YouTube than watch everyone try to sing R&B or honky tonk on Fox. Don't miss the big picture. AI has always been a big fix. And the producers aren't even Americans.

645 days ago

all about the money    

LOL at all the hate votes on posts from people saying that many times it seems its the Blacks crying racist that are actually the real racists. Guess we know who is hate voting...perhaps the truth is hitting too close to home?

645 days ago


Sore losers

645 days ago


so if you're black and don't become a finalist, you've been discriminated against?

645 days ago

Shannon Molina    

Hasn't there been 2 black winners and several black finalists? I swear anybody will sue anyone for just for a buck.

645 days ago


I'm gonna say it, ready? here it goes: What a bunch of idiots...

Especially the lawyer, he's just using these people and sadly they're not bright enough to figure it out. He's the one who walks away with a high profile career from this.

645 days ago


It's not so much that they lost due to their race but that when they were tossed off of the show, the show made a big hoopla about it, whereas when white people or non-black people were kicked off, it was a 5 second announcement, and the show moved on. Their question is "Why make a big deal when the black people get kicked off of the show but be 'hush-hush' when it is a white or non black person?" I can see their point but I'm not exactly sure that they have a concrete case.

644 days ago
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