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'American Idol'

Accused of RACISM

by 9 Black Ex-Contestants

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

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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.

788 COMMENTS

No Avatar
181.

Danielle123    

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.

601 days ago
182.

LB    

Sore losers playing the race card....how pathetic.

601 days ago
183.

shel    

Only time white people don't stick together is when the other is fat

601 days ago
184.

trololol    

Jeeeeze. I couldn't even get through the entire article it was dripping with nonsense so bad. Have they forgotten that one of the winners of a season was black? Jordin Sparks.....How bout the runner up to Clay Aiken? He was black too... Shame on you guys for keeping racism alive.

601 days ago
185.

Gaylord    

Gee, don't ya think it MAY be a possibility that only the black peeps lied about being arrested? I mean hey, we're talkin' a WHOLE NINE peeps here. NINE peeps out of the kazillions who've gone on the program. I don't find it to be a huge leap to consider that maybe, just maybe, nine black performers MAY have lied about that little item.

601 days ago
186.

germs    

Race card, much. This is worse than the bachelor lawsuit.

601 days ago
187.

hiceboi    

These cracker something else these mfs love talkin **** when they cant be seen slap the **** out of all yall cracker we want yall money give it up bitch

601 days ago
188.

Lulu J`    

Didn't Cory Clark accuse Paula of loving him and giving him special favors...he's a reputable defendant isn't he?

601 days ago
189.

Kristen Go    

Uh, Ruben Studdard...anyone? What imbeciles.

601 days ago
190.

ivy davis    

I swear to God, people will do anything to make a dollar! Shameful!

601 days ago
191.

lovelyadira    

what a waste of time. Guys get your asses off the couch and go get a REAL job.

601 days ago
192.

Yammii    

OH PLEASE!

601 days ago
193.

Terrah     

Pretty sure they have 3 Black judges on idol.

601 days ago
194.

whatever    

oh jeez
why is it always "it's because I'm black".... could it be that you just sucked...?? no, no, it has to be a race issue... black people are the most racist of all...

601 days ago
195.

Angie    

I do not think that is the case at all, besides their entire planel now is African American..so? I do not understand. Everyone is always suing everyone. I guess that is American way today..sad =/

601 days ago
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