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Nine Black Former Contestants Accuse American Idol Of Racism

January 25, 2013 | Posted by Joseph Lee

TMZ reports that nine black former American Idol contestants from different seasons are suing the show claiming they were forced off as part of a racist plan to increase ratings.

They submitted a letter to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission through New York attorney James H. Freeman. Freeman asked for permission to sue Idol and FOX on behalf of his clients. He is required to file with the EEOC before a lawsuit. The contestants include 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).

Freeman claims he noticed something wrong when Jermaine Jones was removed from the show on March 15, 2012. Producers claimed Jones didn’t tell them about multiple warrants for his arrest. Freeman claims he conducted an investigation and found that producers had only publicly disqualified nine other people from the show and they were all black. He thinks Idol has been running a “cruel and inhumane” plan to exploit and humiliate contestants for ratings.

Freeman believes the “scheme” begins during the background check portion of the show. Producers ask contestants if they’ve ever been arrested. Freeman says this is a violation of California employment law. Since his clients were applying for “employment”, the show was forbidden from asking them their arrest history. Freeman claims the information, both from the question and arrest records from private investigators working for them, was used to humiliate the black contestants on national TV and create “destructive stereotypes” about black people.

Freeman says the show made his clients appear to be “violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants” when they were not. Freeman also says the show has “NEVER once publicly disqualified a white or non-black American Idol contestant in the history of the eleven season production.” He claims that none of the contestants who were disqualified from the show for crimes were convicted of those crimes they were charged with at the time.

He added: “Yet their personal and professional lives remain permanently and severely impaired by [the show’s] continuing violations of our nation’s laws.

As soon as he gets approval from the EEOC, he plans to file documents in court and sue. Nigel Lythgoe said he was “shocked” by the “ridiculous” allegations. He added: “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.

For the record, Idol has three African-American winners in its history: Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino and Jordin Sparks.

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Joseph Lee
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