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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

0124_idol_9_launch
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
226.

freaksloan    

Obamanation! Nothing else needs to be said.

600 days ago
227.

Telling it    

I say IT IS RACISM! You white people are ALWAYS whining and pretending like racism dont exist because the corporation picked their tokens! Calling Mariah Carey "black" PROVES your racism when she is a WHITE GIRL who maybe partially mixed! Jordan Sparks "black'? she is mixed white/black! So referring to anyone mixed black and another race as just "black" is racist! But you mean to tell me all those thousands of white and non-black applicants of Idol NONE were arrested? GTFOH! IT IS RACISM!!!!!! You trailer trash and mommy and daddy supported losers who run to Idol season after season begging for a 15 mins of fame will be all up their shows ass and diss anyone having the courage to come out and speak the truth!

600 days ago
228.

shel    

This is all hype to get you dummies to slay eachother....the world is over populated....

600 days ago
229.

karri    

How sad for the Black community that first you have a lawyer that is using you. Second, that these "men" are claiming racism. You are all an embarrassment to all Americans, no matter what color we are... GO GET A JOB!!

600 days ago
230.

trololol    

man, I couldn't get through this entire article it was dripping with so much bull****.

600 days ago
231.

Joey    

Fantasis was black so was Ruben. These punk A$$ no talent suckers should get a job and move on. You didn't win because you all SUCK

600 days ago
232.

O-Dog2GX    

Simon a/o Rupert might just pull a CYA move and settle on this. If they deal w/ this in CA, He has a case, sadly. Theyre just mad they couldnt make the tour. U know the legal info about what gotta be on all forms is clear. Simon knows how 2 cover his ass.

600 days ago
233.

dreamer4u    

only because they were not good enough to stay on? WHY is it that an african american person ALWAYS cries racism because they "didn't get the job", "I was passed for promotion because I am black" it all needs to end. It is because you are NOT qualified or just not fit for the position! Cut and dry..no racism involved!

600 days ago
234.

fred    

all black people must boycut this racist show,,this thing going treu for a long time.withe people think they are bether than black with music,,dont make me laffff..they can,t dance,can,t hold beat.make themself stuppid on the dancefloor..black people born with music,,,white people are jealous sinds the slavery they beat blacks for a lots off thing like play ,gospel,jazz,.boogie woogie,ragtime they call it devils music that time.that music are music today what you hear on the radio and t,v what blacks ever made,,sinds humankind..the music todays will stops when black people dy on this planet..white,s can,t have a fenomenal music groove and feeling like black people.

600 days ago
235.

Telling it    

I say IT IS RACISM! You white people are ALWAYS whining and pretending like racism dont exist because the corporation picked their tokens! Calling Mariah Carey "black" PROVES your racism when she is a WHITE GIRL who maybe partially mixed! Jordan Sparks "black'? she is mixed white/black! So referring to anyone mixed black and another race as just "black" is racist! But you mean to tell me all those thousands of white and non-black applicants of Idol NONE were arrested? GTFOH! IT IS RACISM!!!!!! You trailer trash and mommy and daddy supported losers who run to Idol season after season begging for a 15 mins of fame will be all up their shows ass and diss anyone having the courage to come out and speak the truth!

600 days ago
236.

shel    

Seriously I have great white friends I love them, its so unfortunate that white people stick together even when they are wrong..because of that I am limited as to how I converse with my white friends. Welcome to USA

600 days ago
237.

Danielle123    

Their issue is that when white/non black people/criminals were disqualified, it was done so in a quiet manner ('hush-hush' on the side type of thing) whereas when the black people/criminals were disqualified, they made a huge deal about it with announcements, reasons, etc. Read the post before you comment, not just the other comments.

600 days ago
238.

hateitallgood    

I don't know why most black people act like everyone owes them something because your great aunt uncle grandparents were slaves. I didn't own a slavery farm so get off my ass about it and get over it. Instead of bitching and complaining about it go out and make positive Change like King did and stop holding every white person responsible for slavery its getting old. And remember a White man freed you all =] and this lawsuit wont work

600 days ago
239.

anpri8705    

Season 1 there was a black guy who was kicked off the show for lying about his age. haha!! its not american idols fault that they're all black, they just are. Don't matter to me I've been watching that show since season 1 and I will continue watching till it ends. Get over it ppl!

600 days ago
240.

LAPartyMcSage    

In almost a dozen years of American Idol the only kids disqualified were 9 Blacks and 2 Italians. And that's not even counting the Italo hip hop twins they played cat and mouse with before they humiliated them off the show. If this isn't bias and racism then I don't know what is. I hope Fox gets taken to the cleaners and AI gets thrown off the air for good. It's a pop culture fix and not a real talent show.

600 days ago
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