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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
211.

John Common    

Its no different than asking if you listen to Ted Nugent with the purpose of eliminating whites. Its illegal to ask the question for a reason. Arrested and convicted are two different things. Its harder to name a headline singer that hasn't been arrested than one that has.

573 days ago
212.

TEAM LAMMY    

Sorry ass losers! People have fought for racial equality and some have died for it. These knuckle heads just trying to cash in. Your talent would speak for itself. Before, during, and after the show. If producers weren't knocking on your door, there is a reason.

573 days ago
213.

Jenny    

do these morons and their lawyer not see Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Niki Minaj as the judges well ones that are black anyways one straight up white dude and the rest african american .. but yet the show is racist ,. the judge is gonna sue these idiots for wasting valuable court time for real cases lol

573 days ago
214.

IceGypsy    

You have criminal records and that's racist?? Ummmm okay good luck with all that LMAO!!

573 days ago
215.

Paul Madary    

Why is Racism an option? If you lose you Lost.

573 days ago
216.

RobRod    

Be careful what you post folks. Before you know it, you too will be accused of racism. This lawsuit is a farce. Ridiculous and pathetic. I believe more racism exists within the black community than any other. After all, the story lines of racism are always coming out. Everyone is a racist! Give me a break already. There will always be stereotypes because they exist folks. And there will always be a certain amount of the population who is inclined to not like another race or religion for whatever reason. Whether real or imagined. There was no racism here folks. Just people trying to get more of their 15 minutes and a little cash if possible. Simply pathetic.

573 days ago
217.

Jelly    

Danielle123....are you really that ignorant? You don't think black people commit mass and serial killings? Matthew Mason murdered and raped 5 women..Brian Davis murdered 6 women...Mark Goudea aka the Baseline killer..he killed 8 women and a dude..The Zebra Killer..he is thought to have killed over 70 people...and there are a crap load more!! Do your homework. And look inthe mirror if you want to see the face of a racist! Ridiculous!!

573 days ago
218.

lydia    

haha ****in hell. this is ridiculous.

573 days ago
219.

TEAM LAMMY    

Can't wait till 2040's when whites become a minority in America . I'm going have a race card in my back pocket, I may be old, but I'm going have a case

573 days ago
220.

sunnyjazzislove    

It doesn't sound like these guys have a case. I'm sure American Idol knows the law & whether or not they have the right to ask people if they've been arrested. It seems to me that if these guys signed something stating one thing & were found to be lying about it, not only does A.I. have the right to 'fire' them, they may even be able to sue *them*.

573 days ago
221.

Cletus Van Damme    

Everyone criticized Megan Wants a Millionaire for not doing enough background checks, now Idol is doing too many? Guess what, don't do any crimes if you don't want it to impact your life later.

573 days ago
222.

LAPartyMcSage    

Make no mistake. The strict rules are set for a reason. To have an easy excuse to get rid of any certain contestants that lack the right skin color or singing style for AI's Generation Suck pop culture agenda. This disqualification bias mess is still the tip of a huge iceberg. Across the pond they allow opera as well as many other various types of music. Here in the US it's only R&B or country as if no other music ever existed. This show is a planned fix to keep US music in the depressing sound doldrums. That's why the judges make a fortune while most winners wind up with an also ran career or albums in the CD bargain bin. LOL!

573 days ago
223.

RuthieB    

OMG Shut the hell up with the racism crap. Just because you are a black criminal doesnt mean you were kicked off for being black. Its the criminal part you idiots.

573 days ago
224.

hateitallgood    

this crap is so stupid... These idiots make black people look bad... These are the type of ignorant people that I hate even if they were white mexican asian whatever that type of behavior is ridiculous

573 days ago
225.

Cereal_Killer    

Its bull**** so I can sue tyler perry cause im white and he wouldnt let me in one of his all black bull**** stupid comedies its crap just a reason to cry get a life and get over it

573 days ago
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