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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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Idol Has 3 Black Judges 9 Lames Who Want Fame!

637 days ago

bobby rojas    

about idol being racist, this is rediculous, and about peoples background, what does it matter, at least they are trying to do something with their life now, give them a break, let someone make something of themselves.

637 days ago



637 days ago


I think they are racists on that show. I am positive there are whites on there that have arrests records. But you never here about it.

637 days ago


They proved they were losers when they auditioned, now they proved that they are SORE losers and whip out the trusty race card!!!


637 days ago


It IS against the law to lie on an employment application about your criminal history and if you are hired before it is discovered, it is grounds for automatic termination. I believe most of these idiots lied about their criminal history and that is why they were disqualified.

637 days ago

el polacko    

what nonsense ! all entertainers have 'morals clauses' in their contracts. these guys weren't dumped because of the shade of their skin, they were dumped because they have shady backgrounds.

637 days ago

el polacko    

blacks, who are 13 percent of the population commit 89 percent of the crime in this country. it's no big suprise that these statistics would be reflected in these talent show contestants.

637 days ago


If that California law is true, it's an even flakier place to be than I thought

637 days ago


I see by the ratings that as of this post, 6 people agree with me and 7 black people can't handle the truth.

637 days ago


It's only racist if other contestants had arrest records of other races and were not disqualified. That's the only way I see these guys having a case. Idol wouldn't be able to say they missed* an arrest record of a white contestant without looking racist. However, if all the other contestants are in the clear of arrest records, then these guys have no chance in hell. All it shows is that statistically, there are in fact more black criminals.

637 days ago

Violent Pope    

I hope they learned to say " you want fries with that."

637 days ago


Good for them for speaking out and bringing attention to the obvious discrimination.
People should know that 'the industry' does not like powerful black musicians as it is and won't promote this talent.

637 days ago


Last word. Let's have some reason or common sense here. Out in the real world outside of fixed showbiz talent shows that are only partial to a few certain musical singing styles, most background checks and investigations are done first before anyone is hired. To openly accept someone, ask illegal employment questions and fact check later is to practice a built-in bias and discrimination. The only purpose of doing it this way is to set up folks for the humiliation of dismissal and make news for ratings. That's what this is all about. I hope they win. American Idol is a bogus talent contest as are all reality shows produced by the trashy pop taste of carpetbagging foreigners.

637 days ago


Wow reading these comments seems like a whole helluva lot of you are crackers. It never ceases to amaze me how racist and judgmental people are on the internet, when it anonymous. Shame shame.

637 days ago
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