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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
106.

Pittsburgh Storm    

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

544 days ago
107.

Blossom    

I'm sorry but wasn't Ruben Studdard black and he won Season 2 of Idol?

544 days ago
108.

Melissa B    

I'm white & don't doubt it. People advertise & try to appeal to their 'target' audience. Just like all of these basketball wives shows. I bet their target audience is black.I'm sure some ppl besides whiteanglos watch AI but the majority is white anglo & so they will appeal to that target grp. Lets not forget we still make up 60% of the US population. It might be hard to believe living in Cali or NY w/mixed diverse populations but go to the heartland-there are a lot of fking white ppl still in this country.

544 days ago
109.

Truth    

THE LAWYER HAS A POINT. IF HE MADE IT ON EMPLOYMENT VIOLATIONS RATHER THAN RACE MORE PEPO WOULD AGREE. BUT THE FACT HE THROWS RACE INTO THE MIX HE MAKES HIMSELF LOOK THE JOKESTER HE IS... CONSIDERING HALF THE FINALISTS ON IDOL ARE ALWAYS BLACKS OR MINORITIES. TRUE, EMPLOYMENT ACT SAYS YOU CAN ASK ABOUT CONVICTIONS NOT ARRESTS. IDOL CONTESTANTS AFTER THEY MAKE CERTAIN ROUNDS DO GET PAID. I BELIEVE THAT'S WHEN THEY MOVE TO THE LIVE ROUNDS AND MOVE INTO THE IDOL HOUSE. THEREFORE WHETHER YOU'RE A CONTRACTED EMPLOYEE OR REGULAR EMPLOYEE THE LAW STILL FITS. WHY DO THEY THEN ASK AND INVESTIGATE FOR ARRESTS "AFTER" THEY GET TO LIVE ROUNDS AND NOT DURING THE APPLICATION PROCESS IN THE EARLY ROUNDS??? HMMM... INNERESTING, THE DUDE HAS A POINT AND IT'S ABOUT RATINGS, PR, AND HUMILIATION. POINT BLANK, REGARDLESS OF RACE. #TRUTH!!

544 days ago
110.

Phreaky    

This is the dumbest thing I've ever seen. I've been applying for jobs all over the place for the last year, and 90% of them ask if I'm a felon and ask if I have any warrants. The one I filled out yesterday made me explain any misdemeanors even!

544 days ago
111.

starkuskilderry    

If they were really racist why would they have randy and nikki as judges. Oh I know they're just diversions to the racism. Give me a break. Ruben Stoddard won season two. Fantasia burrino won. Jordan sparks won. Joshua ladet was constantly praised last year. Jermaine was taken off due to lying about criminal history and creating a fake sob story. Bottom line is if you are dishonest when it comes to one of the biggest shows on tv don't think theu won't find out. And they can't be lenient with the world watching

544 days ago
112.

♥BeautifulMia♥    

MDON'T GET ME WRONG, Black people can do violent things too BUT at least they will only harm YOU if they have a beef with YOU. So at least you know you have the power to avoid being shot and have some kind of control over the situation. With White people, it is completely random and you never know when they're gonna do something, so you're just screwed. Creepy Crazy dog smelling crackers

544 days ago
113.

starkuskilderry    

Reading these comments I'm sure the american public is a lot more racist than the judges on some tv show

544 days ago
114.

♥BeautifulMia♥    

DON'T GET ME WRONG, Black people can do violent things too BUT at least they will only harm YOU if they have a beef with YOU. So at least you know you have the power to avoid being shot and have some kind of control over the situation. With White people, it is completely random and you never know when they're gonna do something, so you're just screwed. Creepy Crazy dog smelling crackers

544 days ago
115.

shy_daniels    

Half of these comments are ode racist yall hide behind computers and talk **** about black people knowing damn well yall wont say it to our faces and for that yall can SMD!!

544 days ago
116.

Level34    

Here we go...I guess when you can't get your way it has to be RACISM. Everyone has to blame it on RACISM, for an excuse because of their faults and failures in lfe. Here's an idea. DEAL WITH IT!!! Stoping blaming everyyhing on RACISM, because of your stupidity.

544 days ago
117.

Rachel    

This is SO DUMB! People need to stop seeing themselves as black white asian hispanic, whatever it may be! This is why racism is so abundant in America! Stop trying to make a quick buck by playing the Race card! If you want ppl to stop "racial Profiling" STOP bringing it up! No matter what anyone does ppl will always pull the race card and unfortunatly NOTHING will change until you start seeing yourself as a HUMAN BEING NOT A COLOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

544 days ago
118.

Yaya12    

D.O.A!

544 days ago
119.

StarryStarryNight    

9 asshats who don't want to accept that they're asshats.

544 days ago
120.

RaisingStar    

I remember when there was 1 girl who they booted off because she was a stripper. I didn't think that was,

544 days ago
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