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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.

789 COMMENTS

No Avatar
346.

Tfoz666    

What a bunch of crybabies this is one of the dumbest suits I've ever heard of.some people are just so stupid if idol was racist nobody but minorities would win there is only one fully white judge during all this tell these fools to get a real job and quit blaming people for them not being able to get work there r plenty of successful minority people in this country grow up u losers and move on u didn't have what it takes for the show so accept it and deal with it quit pulling the race card u schmucks

529 days ago
347.

Michael H McInerney    

Chris Golightly was kicked off American Idol because he lied about his past on an agreement he signed prior to being on the show. Chris, let's get real here.

529 days ago
348.

Alexis    

I've never gotten the racist vibe from the show. I feel the lawsuit is ridiculous and black people need to careful about throwing the race card around, it doesn't look good. Also all the racist comments could stop (just sayin).

529 days ago
349.

shonenhiikada    

Chris is black ?

529 days ago
350.

t_tommy74    

This has got to be the stupidest issue I have ever read in my life wow "I didn't get picked for a show because I am black" don't blacks get tired of playing the race CARD? They say whites are racist people but this proves they are racist

528 days ago
351.

RayN    

Wait there is a white guy,

528 days ago
352.

jay    

Ok, I haven't watched this show in a few years, but, what I did notice is a direction with each season musically. After Reuben and Fantastia won, and had limited success on the sales front, they started selecting contestants based on the musical direction. More country type contestants getting thru the elimination rounds one year, more rock oriented the next, etc... While not racism, it certainly did not give everyone the same starting position.

528 days ago
353.

Kookla    

Why must people blame it on race because they lost? If that makes them sleep better at night, rather than facing up to the real reason an that is that someone was simply better.

527 days ago
354.

Auntyemm    

Corey Clark made numerous agressive attempts to solicit my daughter to join this lawsuit. We have repeatidly declined and do not feel that there has been any wrong doing by Idol or Fox

527 days ago
355.

VeroVill    

You people are crazy ridiculous... I hate the race comments. But for the individual who posted about blacks and welfare... the reality is that all govermental systems were set up as protections for whites (privileged persons). Today welfare numbers are due to the disabled, elderly, children, military, and refugees. Ugh!! Grow up already. Oh and if you get an IRS refund, you are accepting welfare because you arent paying your fair share of taxes. Get oer yourself. If they want to sue let them, it isnt your money they are receiving. Maybe you are upset because you arent getting any.

526 days ago
356.

bluesky424    

WOW...FANTASIA IS BLACK SHE WON! HAAH Ruben Studdard is black HE WON. Oh...Jennifer HUSDON? BLACK!!! This is a joke! I've watched almost every season, and I DO NOT remember any of these men. I imagine it is because they are not that talented. What a low desperate attempt to discredit american idol. It is pathetic given the fact they have had winners who are black. This attorney is the one who is exploiting these "Black men" and stereotyping them. Blaming "the white man" for their insufficient talent. This is such a joke! Now they really are the "Stereotypical" blacks.

Oh...Randy Jackson....hm....last time I checked he wasn't white! haha

525 days ago
357.

bluesky424    

clay and adam should sue idol for discrimination against the lgbt community..

this is absurd

525 days ago
358.

faraha1290@gmail.com    

WOW...FANTASIA IS BLACK SHE WON! HAAH Ruben Studdard is black HE WON. Oh...Jennifer HUSDON? BLACK!!! This is a joke! I've watched almost every season, and I DO NOT remember any of these men. I imagine it is because they are not that talented. What a low desperate attempt to discredit american idol. It is pathetic given the fact they have had winners who are black. This attorney is the one who is exploiting these "Black men" and stereotyping them. Blaming "the white man" for their insufficient talent. This is such a joke! Now they really are the "Stereotypical" blacks.

Oh...Randy Jackson....hm....last time I checked he wasn't white! haha

525 days ago
359.

tt    

The Race Card is getting old!!!

519 days ago
360.

Ana    

None of them have been successful, black and whites! cause they simply SUCK! Lol show sucks too!

457 days ago
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