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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.


No Avatar

Jules Winnefield    

It's always about "Racism"! Wink! Wink!

582 days ago


American idol so far has been a bore. Contestants sound the same as previous contestants with some hitting ear splitting high notes to impress as if that is all to being a good singer. Some past and present singers are not exactly Whitney Houston yet they are great singers. Remember Peggy Lee?

582 days ago


wow...just a bunch of broke guys who have no job and "claim" there was racism on the show. give me a damn break! get a life and a job cuz apparently you can afford a lawyer. most likely you wont win anyway. so stop while u can..

582 days ago


What sort of compensation and/or benefits did they receive?

582 days ago

Home Skillet    

I feel badly for the members of the black community whom I respect when frivolous, meaningless and baseless charges like this are brought by members of your own community. What this segment of your community fails to realize is that it does nothing more than take progress that we've all made down a few notches. It's embarrassing to the community because it's a tired, old, worn out play from a game book that was outdated years ago. People who truly want equality don't perpetuate an old way of life by consistently revisiting it. Unfortunately, those playing this "race card" are using it more as a crutch and a money grab, and that is why I cringe for my outstanding black friends who are better than that and don't see race. We are equals ... this nonsense is inferior to humanity.

582 days ago


People still watch that crappy show? ?

582 days ago


Go home *****s you won't win!!

582 days ago


They need to sue their brother Obama because they can't find a real job. Quit trying to get free money. American Idol and America owes you nothing!!!!

582 days ago


I think these Brits need to educate themselves on American law... One does not simply ask if one has been arrested... The right question should be, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony" where I believe the answers would be no in most cases. Last night on idol there was a very talented black Dr. on the show... Let's see what excuse they make up for this guy's disqualification.

582 days ago


I was raised in a family where there was no skin color. My folks taught me to treat everyone with the same respect that I expected to recieve. However, over the past 10 years I have found my self becoming mroe and more racist. Not in the sense that my skin color makes me superior to other skin colors, but in the sense I am sick and tried of people, primarily black people, playing the race card anytime they lose something, or get into trouble, or don't get what they want. I'm sick of hearing it all the time. I am sick of seeing comedians on TV making fun of my race constantly but God forbid someone makes a joke about their race. It's getting old! My God,w e have a black President....twice now....and it damn sure wasn't 60 million black people that voted for him. But society has allowed "It happened because I'm black" to go on for so long it's become the "norm". As an owner of a small business I am afraid to hire a black person. not because I think they will do a bad job, or steal from me, or whatever, but rather if they do a poor job I will be stuck between keeping them to avoid being called a racist, or letting them go and being sued for being racist. Racism stay alive in this country because people are constantly using it as a excuse for their failures.

582 days ago


Ni&&ers be Ni&&ers because Ni&&ers are Ni&&ers ...

582 days ago


When we people get over the black, white thing....its old already. Why does it always have to be about race....maybe its because you simply broke the law and got arrested... stop blaming everything on race.

582 days ago


Well if the contestants answered the question honestly and quietly excused themselves from the competition BEFORE auditioning, so called public shame would have never happened. Here is the true deal: Lawyer Thief was slow on Billing Hours and in his abundant air time, began digging for some crap to stir up knowing full well if he waved $1 in front of these people, they would bite. He could give a crap less about any of them only the public attention he can get and any $ he can steal from the whole thing. Truth!!

582 days ago


When all else fails, put the race card. Maybe all the white judges should sue because Randy Jackson is the only judge who hasn't been canned and he is black.

582 days ago

Pittsburgh Storm    

OMFG! ENOUGHHHHHH with the black thing. Give me a break.

582 days ago
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