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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.

788 COMMENTS

No Avatar
121.

J    

They haven't realized what it really means to a true artist.

585 days ago
122.

John the Lawyer    

Aw, hell, I'm going to sue the NFL for discrimination since 70% of all players are black and that constitutes defacto evidence of discrimination against white, asian and hispanic players. Will someone finally cut this "I'm a victim" crap?

585 days ago
123.

Rich     

Same whine ....same tune. Get a life!!!!!

585 days ago
124.

CB    

In all actuality, you have to be from a 'red' state or the south to win. Don't believe me, look at the stats!!

585 days ago
125.

Snerkles    

Rolling eyes, here.

'nuff said.

585 days ago
126.

Meanie    

More black folks falsely claiming racism. And ya wonder why it's now such a chicken little claim,

585 days ago
127.

still2easy    

Want some cheese with that WHINE?

585 days ago
128.

Luke    

This is stupid.. AI will "exploit and humiliate" anyone for ratings. Next time I lose the lottery, I'm going to sue because the lottery system exploited and humiliated me for more money because I'm white. Yea.. that's the ticket.

585 days ago
129.

IndyMike    

Once again the black community playing the race card as an excuse to get what they want. What a joke

585 days ago
130.

GM    

It's illegal to ask potential employees if they've ever been arrested? More insanity from that idiotic state. Who wants a criminal working for them??? This is nuts

585 days ago
131.

Purple Label    

To Idol honcho Nigel Lythgoe don't be so quick to dismiss this issue -Im a say this about the English "some not all" are notorious deniers of racism. Blacks from the Caribbean migrated to England in the 17th and 18th centuries because of a worker shortage and have been treated as second class citizens for well over 200 years.

585 days ago
132.

tony    

WAHHHH . PULL THE RACE CARD WAHHHH. HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO USE THIS CRUTCH ?!!!! THAT'S LIKE SAYING I DIDN'T GET THE NUCLEAR ENGINEER JOB BECAUSE I FAILED ALL MY EXAMS AND I'M STUPID. IT IS WHAT IT IS . YOU HAD A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND YOU GOT BOOTED . MAYBE THEY CHECKED BECAUSE YOU ACTUALLY SANG WELL AND MADE IT FURTHER THAN MOST AND THE SCRUTINY GOT TIGHTER TO WHERE THEY HAD TO CHECK ON YOU . I MEAN WHO WANTS A CRIMINAL POP STAR? OH,WE ALREADY GOT SOME OF THOSE . chris sure is looking awful white to me

585 days ago
133.

all about the money    

Someone needs to confiscate some peoples "Race" card....it has been over played too many times. I mean now a days it seems the only people "racist" are many Black American's look for hand outs. Not saying there isn't any real racist out there and those that are need to be taken out back and put down...but seriously so many of the "racist" claims today are perpetrated by self "entitled" people looking to collect a paycheck using history as a justification.

585 days ago
134.

ben    

Wow it wouldn't be that this group ACTUALLY deserved to be thrown off the show, would it?? An example of using racism to get what they want . . . Let's blame others for our shortcomings . . . sorry but this group puts themselves in these situations by exuding a certain behavior, then wonder why a finger gets pointed at them!!

585 days ago
135.

Pimpcessa    

Well....another day....another attempt from TMZ to insight racial controversy. Ugggghhhhh!!!

585 days ago
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