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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
46.

diane    

Bunch of no talent a**holes. Always playing the race card. U suck face it. Move on boys

573 days ago
47.

Chuck    

Sleezy people find a sleezy lawyer and sue. Stupid people, stupid lawyer. Hopefully, it will get tossed out of court soon.

573 days ago
48.

Gordon    

No mention of lack of talent, poor perfromance, bad behavior, or criminal past for reasons they didn't go further on the show? So typical of blacks...playing the race card instead of accepting responsibility for their actions.

573 days ago
49.

Michell    

Ruben won Clay...must be racist...STFU!!!

573 days ago
50.

Faye    

How are they going to explain Ruben winning season two?

573 days ago
51.

Faye    

We need some white guys to sue BET, the Congressional Black Caucus, Ebony Magazine, etc. They're all racist.

573 days ago
52.

The Big Bowowski    

I really dont give a F-ck what people posting next might say. Nope, I cant, because it will come out so rasist that I'd never hear the end of it

573 days ago
53.

Ih8Taxes    

It's cold today. Mother Nature is a racist.

573 days ago
54.

Phishie from Philly    

First of all Chris is white too. So they did disqualified a white person. Second of all Corey is latino. So these 9 guys lied and got caught and now they want to sue. I got to say it, "that's typical"!
..
Phishie from Philly

573 days ago
55.

It's Me    

WOW!!! Maybe you just aren't good enough singers to make it past the point you were booted off. Ever think of that? Always the race card when things don't go their way.

573 days ago
56.

Tonya    

I'm a black female and I have the Answer. ..Keep Your Ass out of jail and you won't have a record! No Attorney Needed, Free Advice! !

573 days ago
57.

Cran    

Hey FAUX Network the truth is going to hurt.

573 days ago
58.

VAN     

Alot of hate on this board and racist comments! AI did have blacks as winners in the 1st couple of seasons that how they work in this industry, so black/minoritiess can support the show. Its no different when VH-1 had FLAVA OF LOVE where the girls got only 100 per show, then as the brand grew they came with all these others show where Snookie and the rest were paid over 6 figures. Remember people a show is not going to work unless you have the minorities support. Just to vote on AI you need your phone to vote and how much is that charge like 1.99 per vote.. ADD THE UP! STOP THE RACIST TALK AND MAKE HUMANE COMMENTS

VANSILK
HIP HOP PIONEER

573 days ago
59.

Cheryl A.    

WOW. I don't watch the show, I KNOW it's rigged but how many white contestants were booted off the show in the past 8 seasons? A hell of a lot more then 9 I betcha.

573 days ago
60.

The Big Bowowski    

just like I would say to all of the red and yellow black and white they're all precious in his sight, Jesus lloves all the people in the world..except for Nicki steak sauce ,Pariah Carey, ..Randy and Keith are.cool, yet there are

573 days ago
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