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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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These people were all disqualified because they LIED about it when asked. There have been a couple of people on the show who had criminal records but they were allowed to stay on because they had been honest about their past from the beginning. I don't understand the logic of lying about your past when you know a PI will be investigating you, then suing the show for kicking you off because YOU lied. Grow up, get a real job, and get over it.

634 days ago


They where kicked off because they SHARTED themsleves.....not because there black, or half black as some of them appear to be...

634 days ago


I hate American Idol, it's a worthless pile of crap, but just because you can't sing don't try pulling the damn race card, You can't sing, get over it already and move on,

634 days ago


What an embarrassing ploy for attention from a bunch of sore losers. Multiple warrants? Nobody was "convicted?" Charming. .

634 days ago


So a bunch of black dudes who all lied and tried to hide the fact that they are losers with arrest warrants and couldn't pass background checks now want to sue? It's not idols fault they are losers. stop acting like typical hoodlums and start being decent members of society.

634 days ago

BB not bb    

It should be illegal in every state to ask someone if they were ever arrested in order to get a job. They ask that on the federal application to be a postal worker also. You are innocent until proven guilty. Many arrests result in not guilty verdicts.

It could be that only blacks had the arrest records, but it is still wrong to treat them like outcasts for life over it.

634 days ago


I see black people.

634 days ago


Corey Clark was the one who claimed to have an affair with Paula Abdul. I guess this is his new "I need money" moment.

And to their lawyer...WHAT "impaired professional lives?" How many of these idjits have no education and skills--other than rapping? Walmart is calling.

634 days ago


I totally believe their claims because mainstream tv has a agenda to corrupt young minds with filth and it always has been to corrupt and make the black man look like villains. Hollywood is run by Jewish men who hate the black race. It is well known for years America is full of black people the executives need to brainwash the American public once again into believing the black race are criminals. This coming from a Canadian white girl.

634 days ago

The Big Bowowski    

So many people spouting off. Please Shut up. I dont see any Asians or true Africans or anyone else complaining. Remember that the white race as you know it includes all of Europe and North America, including Canada...minus Just a Beaver. So you and your latino friends should stop youre whining, cause you obviously coldnt sing good make the had 2 blacks, a white ausie country singer, and whatever.Pariah is. Deal wot it and get back to your day jobs

634 days ago


Oh geese here we go again....ugh. cant a different excuse/complaint be thought up for when people don't get their way? I'm sick and tired of this overused totally rediculous one.

634 days ago

The Big Bowowski    

Sorry, kind of drunk believe I posted an opinion for gonna have to kick my own ass when I sober.up. Damn

634 days ago


Idol didn't make black people look bad. Those black people make black people/themselves look bad. Stereotypes exist for a reason, no matter what race you are, or what you do. I'm sick of hearing people bitch about it. If you don't want to be on the wrong end of it, then set a better example.

634 days ago


2words, Jennifer Hudson. too bad they kicked her off.. NOT. Get over it people and get on your life.

634 days ago


They are doing themselves more harm by filing a lawsuit. If they have a criminal record and won Idol, it would be an embarrassment to the nation. Who wants an idol with a criminal record.

634 days ago
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