Hicks insists, 'Not once did I see the show discriminate towards anyone,' as Abrams says the show 'is picky, but I'm not sure about racist.'
The racism accusation against "American Idol" made by nine former contestants is challenged by other "Idol" alums. After report spread that the disgruntled "Idol" hopefuls threatened to sue the singing competition, Taylor Hicks and Casey Abrams give their own testimonies of how the show treats its contestants.
"American Idol is for everyone," so Hicks who won the fifth season of the veteran reality series says. The "What's Right Is Right" singer adds, "All walks of life go through the show. Not once did I see the show discriminate towards anyone. It's all about the votes."
Abrams, who finished sixth in season 10, defends the show, "I don't know why they are biting the hand that fed them. Those guys beat thousands of people who wanted to be on TV. Idol is picky, but I'm not sure about racist."
More alums, Melinda Doolittle from season 6 and Vonzell Solomon from season 4, also disagree with the accusation. "It is shocking to see such allegations," Doolittle tells TMZ. "In my experience on the show, the 'Idol' team strives to champion everyone, regardless of race. However, each contestant is explicitly told that the withholding of information that may compromise the show or artist, can and will result in immediate disqualification."
Solomon adds, "I didn't experience any of that [racial discrimination] ... all of our contracts were clear about how the background checks worked and that we could be disqualified if we lied about our past."
Previously, TMZ broke the news that nine former contestants of "Idol" had submitted a letter to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to ask for permission to sue "Idol" and FOX. "As of now it is not a lawsuit; it is just a request to the federal government that they investigate," attorney James H. Freeman, who represented the nine contestants, said at the time.
In the letter, Freeman alleged the show of using his clients' criminal records to paint them as "violent criminals, liars and sexual deviants." He also pointed out that the FOX reality series had only publicly disqualified black contestants.
Nigel Lythgoe quickly responded to the claim, saying, "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."