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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
301.

James    

Gee!!! It's not nine white guys!! Surprise!!! Surprise!!!!

601 days ago
302.

Steve    

Maybe they just weren't good enough.. not surprised at the race card being pulled though, either. Getting to be pretty common place these days.

601 days ago
303.

OxDebbersxO    

Did we forget that us whities had a hand in electing and re-electing the first BLACK PRESIDENT?? Enough said

601 days ago
304.

Deelight    

If ever I am board and have free time I just go to the TMZ comments section and get my laugh and or laughs for a day!!

601 days ago
305.

Cathy    

Well we all know this is how it goes. If you don't win, or you get caught, or you don't get the job - claim Racism ! This is ridiculous, and my guess would be that they LIED on their employment application about NOT having any Criminal record, then were found out and that's why they were cut from the show. We all know that Idol does not allow contestants with criminal records to proceed. And BYTW, they are ' contestants' on a game show, not applying for a job.

601 days ago
306.

Yeaisaidit    

It's so funny how people come online voicing their opinions about African Americans but I bet you $1000 none of you have the BALLS to say this ish in our face so STFU

601 days ago
307.

WhatsUrDefinition of crazy    

They set themselves up to fail and look like idiots ... American Idol should have to pay for their bad life choices ... That would be like paying child support for someone's donation...

601 days ago
308.

IAMSALLIE    

Truth is the first person to be disqualified was a black female name Frenchie for a plus size garments so yes they have a history with booting blacks....

601 days ago
309.

iss    

The whole race card thing is getting old! It's 2013 and if something doesn't go the way they want they throw out the good ol race card. But If a mexIcan or whIte person does they are racist. Get over yourselves and get a job like the rest of America does and stop looking for a hand out or quick buck

601 days ago
310.

thisisme3    

I am sure the fact that they sucked had nothing to do with it right? Boo f'ing hoo. You sucked. Get over it.

601 days ago
311.

SayWhat?    

How silly. Lets get all the Asians that didn't have the votes to continue to form another group. Then lets get all the caucasians in another group (which will be the biggest btw). They were not that talented, they didn't get the votes, so they were eliminated. Silly boys.

601 days ago
312.

mr.howell     

These 'SLOBS' need to get jobs!..hope this gets thrown out of court!...stop blaming racism for your lack of TALENT!..

601 days ago
313.

Thane    

I need more information. I haven't watched American Idol since Fantasia won. I would consider it racism if white, asian, and indian contestants all had arrests and records but were allowed to stay on the show while the black contestants were forced off.

601 days ago
314.

Thane    

If that was not the case then its not racism.

601 days ago
315.

reyes    

666 is the mark of the beast thesse white devils will burn one day in hellfire

601 days ago
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