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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
316.

MR. POP CULTRE    

Idol Has 3 Black Judges 9 Lames Who Want Fame!

581 days ago
317.

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.

581 days ago
318.

Smarg    

WHEY MAH FREE CHECK BE?? DEM WHITE DEBBILS OWE ME MAH FREE CHECK!!

581 days ago
319.

sophiastormy    

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.

581 days ago
320.

0bama_Drone    

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


FUKERS!!!

581 days ago
321.

Lurker    

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.

581 days ago
322.

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.

581 days ago
323.

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.

581 days ago
324.

sarah    

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

581 days ago
325.

Dan    

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

581 days ago
326.

LetsBeReAL    

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.

581 days ago
327.

Violent Pope    

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

581 days ago
328.

nooneimportant    

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.

581 days ago
329.

LAPartyMcSage    

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.

581 days ago
330.

minneapolisfinest    

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.

581 days ago
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