A form of Double Standard (though probably one of the most justified).
Derogatory slurs are wrong. They are used as a way to imply that a whole group of people is inferior to another group in some way(s), or, as Richard Pryor memorably worded it, they "perpetuate [the] wretchedness" of a group of people. Yet because words gain meaning from context, including the characteristics of the speaker saying those words, slurs are sometimes acceptable if they are spoken by people belonging to the group the slur is about.
The most notable is the word "nigger." Probably the most offensive word in the English language, it has become a term of fellowship in American hip-hop culture, especially in the slang form "nigga." Yet that fellowship only extends to those who have been accorded N-Word Privileges. Putting it simply, some black people call each other this colloquially, generally when they are close friends; but if you address one of them with the word as a white individual, it can be an exceptionally effective method for getting some very dirty looks.
So who has N-Word Privileges? Generally, those who are part of the group to whom the term originally applies usually get a free pass when speaking among themselves, at the risk of looking crass if saying it in mixed company. The occasional "honorary pass" is given to others, such as Latinos saying the N-word, or straight women with lots of gay friends saying "fag," but this can be rather inconsistent, such as Jennifer Lopez catching flack for using the N-word in a song awhile back when the Latin rap group Terror Squad would use it all the time.
Some of My Best Friends Are X will generally not work here. Even if such friends grant permission to use the slur in question, it still has the possibility of horrifying or angering anyone else.
Many people of all backgrounds find this trope problematic. Those belonging to the group in question wonder if they can really "reclaim" a word with such a loaded history, or the point in doing so, as they believe it makes them sound crass and uneducated. Those belonging to the dominant social group cite hypocrisy and discrimination when privileges aren't extended to them (not that they'd ever use them, mind, but It's the Principle of the Thing).
The title of this trope comes from a comedian's explanation of why white people can't say the N word. "Maybe because we haven't always used it properly in the past. Yeah, we got a little bossy with it. Our N-word privileges have been revoked." This trope refers to all slurs that have been claimed as in-group slang, not just the N-word.
Please note that this trope had been misused. If the link is not an example of this trope, link it to another trope.Sub-Trope of Appropriated Appellation.
Compare Offending the Creator's Own (when a work, rather than a word, is thought to be offensive), T-Word Euphemism (which this page demonstrates), and Race Name Basis (when a character's race is used in place of their name which could lead to this).
In Naruto the term jinchuriki means "power of the human sacrifice" and refers to people with bijuussealed in them. The titular character is enraged when people who view jinchuriki as tools use it to dehumanize them but accepts it when used as a technical term. He's also okay with it being used by current/former jinchuriki.
In an old issue of Uncanny X-Men, where Kitty Pryde is confronting a group of her fellow students who are plotting to kill Professor Xavier during a visit to Columbia University (this was at a time that Kitty was taking college classes). One of the students, who was black, accuses Kitty of being "a mutie," to which Kitty replies: "I dunno, Phil, are you a nigger?" (The word was not censored in the original dialogue.) Ray responds predictably, prompting Kitty to call him on his hypocrisy.
And in the Uncanny X-Men graphic novel God Loves Man Kills, Kitty's dance teacher Stevie Hunter attempts to keep Kitty from beating up a boy who'd called her a "mutie lover" (not knowing that Kitty herself was a mutant), by telling Kitty that "they're just words." Kitty immediately throws Stevie's seeming hypocrisy in her face, asking her if she'd be so calm had the boy called Kitty a "nigger lover." Both examples got a lot of flak and continue to do so, where a number of readers objected to the use of the word even if it was to make a point about tolerance, some citing the idea that it was wrong to equate the suffering of a fictional minority to the suffering of a real minority.
Kitty drops this one AGAIN when someone asks her if she's a mutie, and she asks the person if he's a nigger. Two different writers years apart.
In an issue of Punisher MAX, a member of the IRA visiting the United States goes on a rant to his friend about how he'll be "nobody's nigger ever again," forgetting that he isn't in Belfast and the word means something very different in the States. He soon finds himself surrounded by some very... unhappy people.
In Y: The Last Man, white Yorick's black bodyguard uses the N word in reference to him, and eventually lets him use it in reference to her... in the "Nigga Please" sense.
The Quantum and Woody issue "Noogie" explicitly refers to this in an intro saying that they've been forbidden to use the "N-word," and will use the word "Noogie" instead. It then subverts it when a poor black character repeatedly calls Quantum "noogie". Quantum, whose full-body costume covers his identity, demands to know how the man knows he's black, only to be told "You're black? S-Word!"
Northstar: Sophomore year I realize I'm gay, and now you're telling me I'm a mutie?
Angel: Um, you may want to live the life for a bit before you start slinging derogatory terms like that, even if you're trying to reappropriate them, or whatever.
In one Strontium Dog story, Johnny and Wulf receive some information from a fellow Bounty Hunter, Cecil 'Frog' Parsons. Wulf thanks him for this, referring to him as 'Frog', which causes Frog to fly into a rage about people who refer to him by his mutation instead of his name. Wulf apologizes, and then Johnny gives Frog a payment for the info, also calling him 'Frog'. When Wulf asks why he didn't get angry at Johnny, Frog matter-of-factly points out that Johnny is also a mutant, so it's different.
In X-Statix, the black team member Anarchist calls a black applicant a spear-chucker, and tells the Orphan (who is a purple-skinned Caucasian mutant) that he wouldn't be allowed to do the same. The Spike literally throws spears, as it happens. And this is all the more ironic when you consider that the Anarchist is adopted and his parents are white, so the Spike thinks he didn't have the right in the first place.
Mocked by Superman villain Manchester Black (who was visually Caucasian), who would frequently use this kind of word and immediately after claim it was okay for him to say that, because he was 1/16th (insert relevant minority group).
In two episodes of Pretty Cure Heavy Metal, there's a black character whose favorite word just happens to be the N word. Since he's the Token Minority, most uses of the N word in both episodes (the only exception when Shugo parodies the N word privileges of a white Australian in episode 24) go to that character. Since the author doesn't want Unfortunate Implications to arise, all uses of the word are censored like most strong profanity. When explaining the reason for the censorship, he actually invoked this trope by referring to himself as "whitey".
In The Last Spartan, "Squidhead" has been adopted as a badge of pride by a Sangheili youth counterculture similar to Otaku, who have developed a fondness for human entertainment and popular culture. Because it's a Fusion Fic crossover with Mass Effect, the team's Sangheili party member, N'tho, also defies his hat by being part of said subculture, and not acting like a Proud Warrior Race Guy like all other Sangheili seen in canon to date.
Deconstructed in thisKatawa Shoujo fanfic. Lilly's father, a diabetic, refers to Yamaku as a "cripple school", insultingly questions how Hanako got her scarsnote If you've played her route and know about how she got them, it's a borderline Moral Event Horizon for him and says Hisao is not suitable for Lilly because of his heart defect. This greatly upsets Hanako, Hisao and especially Lilly, who turns his logic back on him by arguing that he should consider her a "cripple" too.
Blazing Saddles. The blacks in the movie use the N word toward each other in a friendly manner. All white characters who use it are stupid racists, including the little old lady. Mel Brooks stated that he intentionally wanted to overuse the word in the movie to the point that it became such nonsense that nobody could possibly be offended by it anymore. Most people assume that this was a strong influence from co-writer Richard Pryor, but Brooks has stated that most of the parts you'd assume were written by Pryor probably weren't.
Pryor actually wrote most of Mongo's lines.
The works of Mel Brooks often make jokes at expense of Jews. Due to Mel Brooks being himself very Jewish, and self-deprecation being a staple of Borscht Belt humor, no one bats an eyelash.
In Mean Girls, Janis claims calling Damian "too gay to function" is only funny when she says it and gets upset over it being written in the burn book.
In White Chicks, two black men under cover as white Rich Bitches make the mistake of singing along with a rap song on the radio. When the genuine Rich Bitches in the car with them get shocked, they respond, "No-one's listening, right?" Cut to the whole car singing along with a Cluster N Bomb, grinning and giggling girlishly.
Quentin Tarantino is noted for his liberal and unapologetic use of the word, especially in his earlier work. In an interview, Tarantino claimed that he wanted to shout the word from the rooftops until it lost all meaning. Some black filmmakers such as Denzel Washington and Spike Lee have criticized him for it, while others such as Samuel L. Jackson have defended him.
In True Romance, Dennis Hopper's character tells a story about how "Sicilians were spawned from niggers" to a mafioso who is about to torture him. Hopper's language is part of his ploy to infuriate the mobster into killing him quickly so that he cannot give up his son's location. In the DVD commentary, Tarantino revealed that he had learned the story of Moors interbreeding with Sicilians from a black friend of his, who had since passed on.
Pulp Fiction features black and white characters dropping N-bombs as well as other racial slurs throughout the film. Perhaps most notable was the character Jimmie (who is married to a black woman), played by Tarantino himself, going on a tirade about his garage being used for "dead nigger storage." While defending Tarantino's dialogue, Samuel L. Jackson claimed that he had ad-libbed two or three N-bombs for every one that appeared in the script.
Randall uses the term "porch monkey," to the horror of his coworkers and the (black) customers. Later, when it is explained to him what the term means (his grandmother used it all the time, and on reflection he realized she was probably pretty racist), he decides to "take it back" - i.e., by using it, make it less offensive. He even goes so far as to make a jacket that says "Porch Monkey 4 Life" on the back using tape. Yeah, he gets the shit beat out of him for it. By a black cop. Who busts him while he's watching a live bestiality show.
"I always used Porch Monkey to describe lazy people in general, not lazy black people."
"My grandma is not a racist! [reflecting] Though, she did refer to a broken bottle as a "Nigger Knife"."
An in-character discussion of who is actually entitled to N-word privileges occurs in the film. Wayans has a conversation with his white boss. The boss contrasts himself with the starch-suited, very carefully spoken, single and uptown-living Wayans, saying, "I have a black wife, black children, hell, I even used to live in the ghetto, so I feel I'm entitled to use that word." Wayans says he'd prefer his boss didn't, at which the boss scowls and proceeds to drop a cluster N-bomb, never at any point directing it at Wayans, just saying the word a lot. The scene (without apparent transition) then becomes a fantasy Wayans has of violently assaulting his boss and beating his face in all while screaming "Whitey! Whitey! Whitey!"
The main thrust of the film is a Modern Minstrelsy show that Damon Wayans' character creates as a social criticism, which makes heavy use of Uncle Tomfoolery and liberal use of the N-word. One of the catch-phrases of Honeycutt, the show's MC, is "Niggers is a beautiful thang." To the show creator's horror, the it all goes horribly right and the show becomes a hit, with audiences freely and enthusiasticaly shouting back the racist catchphrases.
In How High, an Asian side character is a huge rap fan, and listens to NWA, and suggests the white dorm-mate should also say he does, to make friends. When the protagonists come to the dorm and give the Asian props for his music choice, the white guy blurts "I like Niggaz With Attitude too", and gets smacked.
"Ain't no-one usin' that word here; that goes for you too."
In Monty Python's Life of Brian, Brian vehemently denies that he's half-Roman (his father was the centurion Naughtius Maximus) and tells his mother, "I'm a kike! A yid! A hebe! A hooknose! I'm kosher, mum! I'm a Red Sea pedestrian, and proud of it!"
Leprechaun In The Hood and Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood have pretty much all the black characters regularly using the word to refer to each other, almost exclusively good naturedly. In the latter, when a minor white character cheerfully uses it during a drug deal everyone (including people in the background) just stare at him in disgust, with a record scratch noise (And the sound of a car braking) even being heard when the guy utters the word. Of note, at one point in the movie one of the main characters tells another that "nigga" is actually out and that the new word is "ninja".
The Leprechaun: "Whassup, ninjas!?"
Gran Torino is an interesting example for this. If you walked into the movie not knowing any Asian slurs, you'll be fully stocked upon exiting, as Clint Eastwood's character, Walt, fires everything in the book at his Hmong neighbors. Walt is equal opportunity, however, and enjoys himself when Hmong teenage Sue starts slinging insults back at him. In fact, Walt goes around throwing (to people under the age of forty, rather outdated) white-related slurs (Irish, Italians) at all his friends, and absorbs many jokes about his Polish heritage. At the same time, when instructing Hmong teenager Thao about masculinity, Thao attempts to copy Walt's slur-ridden speech to his Italian friend, which earns him a (comic) gun in the face, suggesting, as elsewhere, that a certain level of familiarity is required for this to be permissible. Notably, the actual N-word is the only major ethnic stone left unturned here.
In The Jerk, Steve Martin's character "Navin" is raised by a black family, and believes he's actually a born member of it; as a result, the N-word becomes his Berserk Button when used by whites.
"You are talking to a nigger!"
In The Hebrew Hammer, when Mordecai meets with the head of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front (Muhammad Ali Paula Abdul Rahim), Mordecai and he greet each other as "nigger" and "kike." The KLF's white accountant lampshades this.
When making Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen (who is an observant Jew) made full use of his J-Word Privileges.
In the 1990 movie Heart Condition, Bob Hoskins is a racist cop who, on arresting a black man (Denzel Washington), uses the N-word. His (black) boss explains to him that that while he (the boss) can say "Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger," Hoskins' character, being white, cannot. Hoskins later gets to justifiably refer to Washington's character as a "spook."
Played with in the Russian film Brother 2 by Aleksey Balabanov. The Russian main character Danila gets in trouble with a black bum when he calls him "negr". Upon being explained why he can't say "negr", Danila is completely bewildered; in Russian, ???? is a neutral word to describe a black person: "That's what I was taught in school: the Chinese live in China, the Germans in Germany, the Jews in Israel and Negroes in Africa." Ironically, his brother and prostitute friend's blatantly racist remarks go unnoticed, as they are said in Russian.
One character in the British war film The Dam Busters has a black Labrador dog named... um, yeah. It's also one of the code words for a successful operation. They dubbed "Trigger" in for rereleases, but the original is kept on the British DVD and Blu-Ray. Noteworthy, the censorship caused confusion because "Trigger" was the name of Roy Rogers' horse.
One scene from The Dam Busters is shown in on Pink's TV in the film Pink Floyd: The Wall. The scene has a character tell another that Nigger is dead, hit by a car. It can be rather jarring when you hear it out of context.
Inverted in Tropic Thunder : when black rapper Alpa Chino uses the word, Kirk Lazarus (a white actor in blackface) gets dead serious and sternly chastises him for it, claiming that "for four hundred years, that word has kept us down". Predictably, this confuses the hell out of Alpa.
In Down To Earth (Chris Rock's remake of Heaven Can Wait), the main character tends to forget that he's a black man who's trapped in a white body. The first time he performs his regular comedy routine in his new body, the audience is shocked into silence. He later gets knocked out by a couple of black guys for singing N-word containing lyrics in public.
The blaxploitation film Boss Nigger concerns two black bounty hunters who set themselves up as sheriffs in a white town. They declare it illegal for the "whiteys" to refer to them as "niggers", but use the word indiscriminately themselves.
An example of privileges beings extended (sort of) to a out-group member from Brians Song: during a workout/physical therapy session for his friend Gale Sayers (played by Billy Dee Williams), Brian Piccolo (played by James Caan) calls him a nigger, hoping to motivate Sayers by making him angry enough to forget his despondency over his low chances of recovery. As soon as he says it, Sayers stares at him, shocked, for a few seconds... then busts up laughing.
Gale Sayers (to his wife, through tears of laughter): Oh, babe, you won't believe it. Brian tried to call me 'nigger'!
The documentary Fagbug is an interesting example: in 2007, a lesbian graduate student named Erin Davies discovered her VW Bug to have been vandalized by someone who spray-painted the words "fag" and "U R Gay," presumably because she had a rainbow sticker in her window. After discover her insurance wouldn't cover the cost to get the paint removed, she decided to just drive around with the car as is, and after getting many interesting reactions to the car decided to drive around the country interviewing people about their reactions to it: some were supportive of her, others were obviously uncomfortable with the word showing up in public, and some people even tried to remove the word from her car (Davies even had to re-paint the word "fag" back onto her window before her trip). She also discovered she couldn't get vanity license plates with the word "FagBug" on them, so she had to settle for "FG BUG". After a year she got the paint removed... and got her car detailed so it's now rainbow colored and has the word "Fag Bug" emblazoned on its side. Davies now uses the car as an instructional tool for her talks about homophobia and prejudice.
Cree Canadian filmmaker Neil Diamond opens the narration of his 2009 documentary film Reel Injun thusly: "I am an Injun," the last word of which is currently considered a heavily racist slur. (He's not a Boomerang Bigot; the movie then does an excellent job picking apart Hollywood's depiction of the indigenous people of North America, who have historically been called 'Indians' or 'Injuns'.)
Happens in Malibu's Most Wanted, where the main character, the (white) son of the Governor of California has been exposed to African-American hip-hop culture since he was little and has eventually decided he himself was black. Apparently, he is no longer called "Brad Gluckman", as it's his "slave name". His new name is "B-Rad G". He has his own crew of non-black privileged kids who also think they're black (one of them is Middle-Eastern). At one point, Brad is taken to a club in a black neighborhood and he ends up taking part in a rap battle. Naturally, he's terrible at freestyle rap, but everything freezes when he says the N-word. The next scene shows him being thrown into a dumpster full of white bread.
Played with in Cabin Fever when a very redneck-looking man says his gun is "for niggers." The main characters are all thoroughly shocked and want to get away from him as soon as possible. Turns into a Brick Joke at the end of the movie when a bunch of Black guys show up and it is revealed that the white guy was just holding the gun for them and he really does have N=Word Privileges since they're his friends.
Deconstructed by Lenny Bruce in the BiopicLenny, where he starts a routine with "Are there any niggers here tonight?" and proceeds to use all kinds of slurs to describe the minorities in his audience. He then says that his point was that " it's the suppression of the word that gives it the power, the violence, the viciousness. Dig: if President Kennedy would just go on television, and say, "I would like to introduce you to all the niggers in my cabinet," and if he'd just say "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" to every nigger he saw, "boogie boogie boogie boogie boogie," "nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger" 'til nigger didn't mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school."
Used very well by Gregory Peck in Gentleman's Agreement to his Jewish secretary that he thinks it's wrong to be using those words — even when you're referring to yourself, as she did when she called herself as a "kike" — in which he says, "I find it offensive when someone calls another person, or even themselves, a kike, a spic, a wop, a nigger, a dago, or a gook, because, whether you realize it or not, it's meant to demean and to degrade them."
Gridlock'd: Stretch, a white man, is True Companions with Spoon and Cookie, a black man and woman. Consequently, he has N-Word Privileges with them. However, he manages to enrage a black drug dealer by using the word on him. Spoon has to pull Stretch aside and remind him that he can't use the word around other black people, but Stretch stubbornly insists that it's a "term of endearment."
Cleaver Family Reunion has the black family members using the term quite extensively, especially Grandma Cleaver. When it turns out that Grandma Cleaver is actually biologically white, she reasserts her right to use the word by using it several more times in the next sentence.
Deconstructed in Christopher Paul Curtis' children's book Elijah of Buxton, where the title character (a freeborn black living in a Canadian settlement for former slaves) uses the slur in question and gets severely chewed out by an adult with a speech that is anvilicious, but with good cause.
The white thugs in Football Factory refer to black people as niggers, including the ones that are on their own Firm. They're "our niggers".
Played with a lot by Terry Pratchett in the Discworld novels. The equivalent 'n-word' for Dwarfs is "lawn ornament" which is considered a killing insult for non-dwarfs but is used by one Dwarf boss to his crew in Moving Pictures. In Wyrd Sisters Hwel allows Vitoller to call him that, because they're old friends, but not anyone else.
In Jingo, Captain Carrot has entered a crime scene surreptitiously by pretending he's renting the flat, and then let Angua (a werewolf) through the window. When the landlady approaches, Carrot reminds Angua he was told he wasn't allowed women in his room, and Angua replies, "Or pets, so she's got me coming and going. Don't look at me like that, it's only bad taste if somebody else says it."
Nonverbal: In The Chemo Kid, the titular kid shows up to the school Halloween party wearing a grotesque mask that parodies someone undergoing chemotherapy. The coach is incensed, until the kid takes the mask off.
A Fantastic Racism example can be found in Warhammer 40,000 universe, specifically in the Eisenhorn novels. In the Imperium, the word "twist" is used as a derogatory term for mutants; the mutants themselves have reclaimed this word, wearing it as a badge of pride, and Inquisitor Eisenhorn notes that "a slur stops being a slur when you use it to describe yourself."
In the Harry Potter series, "Mudblood" is a derogatory term used by pure-blood families for Muggle-born witches and wizards, on par with the real-world "N word" in nastiness. When it's first used in Chamber of Secrets, neither Harry nor Hermione know what it means, but Ron goes ballistic and tries to hex Malfoy for using it on Hermione. In later books, Harry and Ron get upset hearing it from Malfoy, while Hermione is shown to just be mildly angered.
Not just Ron: the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team (besides Harry) flips out, with Angelina shrieking "How dare you!" and it's implied that Fred and George also come very close to attacking Malfoy.
Then in Deathly Hallows, Hermione refers to herself as a "Mudblood" when trying to convince Griphook to help them, since Muggle-borns are being treated as second-class citizens (like the goblins are) under Voldemort's regime.
The way Ron tells her not to call herself that, only to be cut off when she says "Mudblood, and proud of it!" is presumably a nod to the idea of "reclaiming" a slur.
And in The Movie, in the aforementioned first use of the word, Hermione somehow knows what it means. And not just 'I read it in a book', she talks about it as though she's grown up knowing about the word.
"Half-blood" is a somewhat derogatory term used for wizards with one Muggle parent; the "Half-Blood Prince" (Snape) of the sixth book takes on that term as a boastful title.
In Artemis Fowl, Foaly notes that it is only acceptable to call a fairy by their species name if the speaker is a close friend. This presumably glances off the real-world use of "fairy" as an insulting term for homosexual males. (There are no concerted attempts by gay men to reclaim that word.)
The N-Word used to be tossed around pretty casually in England. There was a nursery rhyme, "Ten Little Niggers", known in America as "Ten Little Indians". Agatha Christie wrote a novel using the rhyme that was titled first Ten Little Niggers, then Ten Little Indians, and finally And Then There Were None.
In Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemens Union, the Jews of Sitka have come to use "yid" as a catch-all term for a Jewish person, like "dude" or "guy." This would be understandable for an all-Jewish metropolis even if "yid" in Yiddish, the language they're speaking, didn't already mean exactly that.
It's unlikely that Mordecai Richler could have gotten away with a lot of his novels' Jewish characters if he wasn't Jewish himself.
Intentionally combined with Have a Gay Old Time in The Dark Tower, thanks to the characters being from different time periods: Odetta (later known as Susannah) is from the 1960s and is offended by Eddie, who is from the 1980s, calling her "black". In her time period, "Negro" was the neutral term and "black" was offensive. Both characters are African-American (the word the President uses in 2013).
Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory titled his autobiography Nigger. The dedication page reads:
To Mama: Wherever you are, remember, when you hear the word "nigger," they are advertising my book.
Bill Bryson's Notes From A Big Country has no problem making generalizations about America. Bryson himself is legally an American, but had lived half his life (by then) in Great Britain, and more-or-less considers himself a Brit. Of course, it is a collection of columns from a British newspaper. The odd thing is that a) Bryson makes basically the exact same sort of generalizations Dave Barry makes, except Barry uses we, and b) Bryson has been accused by James May of being an American Anglophile with no idea of what Britain is really like. Despite living in it for over twenty years at that point.
The novel Nigger Heaven. Blacks can call themselves the N-Word as a form of self identity, but as soon as a white uses it, it becomes derogatory. And the term "Negress" isn't allowed at ALL.
A Running Gag in one of Robert Rankin's Brentford novels is a character using a derogatory word and when called on it, saying "It's not racist if you're <minority group>". Eventually subverted when the police inspector says this after calling Omalley a "mick". A constable points out he's not Irish and gets the response "No lad, I'm a policeman."
Stephen King's IT has a variant on this in that the Loser's club all have "N-word privileges" with respect to each other. Thus, it's okay for a member of the club to make fun of Stan for being Jewish or Ben for being fat or Bill for his stutter, but God help any outsider who does the same thing.
Discussed in To Kill a Mockingbird when one character insults Scout Finch's dad, Atticus, to her face by calling him a "nigger-lover". Apparently, tolerant whites in the South didn't have N-word privileges, either. Overlaps with From the Mouths of Babes.
Deconstructed in Dean Atta's poem "I am Nobody's Nigger", and his subsequent Radio 4 documentary ... which was called "Nobody's N-Word".
Discussed in the short story "Am I Blue?":
"If you live in a world that keeps trying to grind you down, you either start thumbing your nose at it or end up very, very short. Taking back the language is one way to jam the grinder. My friends and I called each other 'faggot' and 'queer' for the same reason so many black folks call each other 'nigger'—to take the words away from the people who wants to use them to hurt us.”
In The Santaroga Barrier by Frank Herbert, there's a black guy who's in a relationship with a white girl and is called a "damn nigger" by her father. He claims it was done in an affectionate way and wasn't worse for him than someone using the words "blondie" or "redhead", but adds that you may have to be black to understand this reasoning. (The story is set in a kinda utopian community, which is also a Town with a Dark Secret.)
"The Wisdom Of Solomon," where a young African-American boy named Solomon (played by a young Todd Bridges) remarks to his classmates what he hates about being black: "Being called a nigger."
"Blind Journey," a two-part episode depicting a journey students and staff of the School of the Blind take from Winoka to Mr. Hanson's old house near Walnut Grove; one major part of the episode focuses on an African-American teacher's aide, Hester Sue Tehrune (played by 1950s pop vocalist Ketty Lester), whom Mrs. Oleson thinks before meeting her is an elite society woman. Although Mrs. Oleson is not outright racist and never utters the n-word, Walnut Grove's true racist Judd Larabee (Don Barry, the former title hero in the "Red Ryder" westerns) does.
"Barn Burner," where Larabee — after objecting to a farming cooperative because a black farmer named Joe Kagan will get the same benefits as white farmers — is accused of burning down the Garveys' barn ... then is incensed when the farmer he scorned serves on his jury. Larabee uses the n-word several times in the show. (Ironically, it is Joe who is the only one who thinks Larabee is innocent, and stalls long enough for young Andy Garvey to admit he left a lighted lantern too close to the barn ... and Larabee doesn't even thank Joe. This was the last appearance by the Larabee character, as it is implied thereafter that he is shunned by his family and the town and dies soon afterward.)
In the two-part episode from 1988 called "Read it and Weep," Jennifer refuses to review another mundane Yogi Berra book, instead choosing "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," which had been banned for its repeated use of the word "nigger." The discussion on the suitability of "Huck Finn" in an educational setting includes Steven, the father, saying the word "nigger" (referring to the character "Nigger Jim") at least once.
One of the final episodes was "All in the Neighborhood," which saw an African-American family's house heavily vandalized, and the n-word is spray-painted several times on the walls. The Keatons and their neighbors are forced to confront their deep-seated feelings of racism.
Family Matters: In "Fight the Good Fight," Laura's locker is spray-painted with the word "nigger" (this in response to efforts by Laura and Urkel to begin a Black History Month unit at their school). The original episode was intact in terrestrial syndication prints and ABC Family, but in TVLand/NickAtNite airings the scene quickly fades to a commercial before Laura discovers the offending word.
''Gimmie A Break!": "Baby of the Family," which saw Samantha put Joey up to wearing blackface (a la Al Jolson) during a talent show at Nell's church. An angry Nell confronts Sam, telling her she never thought she'd see the day she'd hear her use the word "nigger." Sam replies that she never would use such a word, and indeed, she does not. Nell responds that she might as well have used the n-word, as – by dressing Joey up in blackface – she offended many decent human beings who have worked hard to reverse stereotypes.
The Jeffersons: George got away with using the word "honky" — the derisive word for whites, often used by blacks — many times, but (much like Norman Lear's other comedies) rarely was the n-word uttered. One notable exception was "Sorry, Wrong Meeting," where the Jeffersons, the Willises (a racially mixed couple), Florence and Mr. Bentley have an all-too-close encounter with the Klu Klux Klan. The Supreme Leader, Herbert Purcell (veteran stage and TV actor James Karen) and his son, Dwayne, have organized a meeting that Tom thinks is one to deal with burglaries inside the high-rise, but it isn't until George arrives and the meeting gets underway that George, Tom and Mr. Bentley see that Purcell's meeting is a KKK meeting to run blacks out of Manhattan. Purcell uses the word "nigger" several times, incensing the main characters many times. When the elder Purcell suddenly falls ill with a heart attack, he must rely on George — an African-American and the very type of person he despises — to save his life ... and when he does, nobody is prepared for Purcell's show of "gratitude."
Donald Trump once fired a guy in the reality show The Apprentice for using the term "White Trash" to describe himself during a Boardroom session.
The introduction to Turk in the first episode of Scrubs featured him and JD having a conversation about whether JD could say the "N word" if it comes up in a rap song to which they're singing along. (For the record, Turk said no.)
The UK series of Big Brother 2007 ejected a housemate named Emily Parr because she had used the N-Bomb in conversation with fellow housemate Charley...who had also used it. And yet Emily Parr was ejected, Charley remained. Charley was black, which is probably why she was allowed to get away with it. Of course similar controversies arose because she had also used the word and had used it several times throughout the series. (The incident in question happened early on.)
Charley was also a notorious hate figure in the house, and was responsible for generating a certain amount of interest in the show - Endemol, the production company, were constantly being accused in the media of fiddling the nomination process to keep Charley safe, knowing she would be evicted promptly as soon as she was nominated but that the ratings - and votes to the premium numbers - would plummet without her. In addition, she actually didn't use the word again, or if she did, it was in a discussion context, rather than directed towards anyone.
The main reason Emily was removed was due to the huge uproar that took place in the UK a few months earlier on the celebrity edition of Big Brother because of an incident of alleged racist bullying.
An episode of Boston Public featured a white teacher using the standard slur when teaching a history class of mostly black students in order to start talking about Afrophobia and language, with the subsequent uproar. He was actually teaching them about the cultural impact about it because of two students. One black, one white. The black one referred to the white one as "His nigga." and in turn, let the white one refer to him as such. Both were completely comfortable with this situation. Enter third party, skin color black, plot ensues.
The old Jewish teacher gets away with it because he's not only very very old (in his 80's) but he has a black son, grandson, and great-grandson.
Also played with in an interesting manner when a teacher was speaking to a black student about an old teacher who said a lot of controversial things.
Teacher: "Aren't you offended when he says things like 'I'm gonna make sure you get your black ass into college'?" Student: "Not really. Because that's what he'll do. He'll get my black ass into college."
Present in Generation Kill, except it's pretty much everyone who has privileges. I believe a southern Marine actually refers to fellow Marine who's black using the N-word. Nobody takes offense.
Spoofed in NewsRadio: Bill is complaining about rap lyrics that include the N-word. When Matthew asks Token Minority Catherine what the N-word is, she whispers in his ear:
Matthew: Nincompoop? Catherine: Hey! I'll let it pass this time, but don't let me catch you saying that word again.
Played with in 30 Rock when Tracy calls Toofer by the "n" word. The square Toofer didn't know about how the term had been reappropriated.
This is made even funnier when Toofer later attempts to use the N-Word in the same way and everyone reacts with offense that he has just "dropped the N-bomb"... the joke being that although black, Toofer is so "whitefied" that it sounds like a slur coming from him.
Interestingly, both of the N-words have to be obscured with sound effects. N-Word Privileges don't cut it with the censors.
Jack also gives a pretty good summary for why this trope is in play.
You see Toofer, the African-American community has adopted that word for everyday use, in an attempt to rob it of it's meaning.
Jack and Liz are also under the impression that "Puerto Rican" works like this.
And another example in "Argus", where Liz reads aloud from a note given to her by Grizz.
Liz: "And if you care about me, you'll respect my decision. I will always be your..." Oh no, I'm white. I can't say that word. Um... "Friend from the neighborhood. Grizz."
In an episode of the black sitcom Girlfriends, Joan and Toni are irritated by Lynn's sister (via adoption), a Caucasian so deeply immersed in black culture that she acts "blacker" than the main cast, but Lynn and Maya defend her... until a Jay-Z song comes on the radio and she makes the mistake of singing along.
Angel provides a Fantastic Racism example in electric-powered mutant Gwen: "What I don't appreciate, Elliot, is being called a freak. That's my word, and I get cranky when people like you use it."
Senior Black Correspondent Larry Wilmore, discussing Barack Obama's potential choice of running mates, explained that he needed to choose someone who wouldn't turn him into a sidekick or the Magical Negro.
Jon Stewart: The magical...? Larry Wilmore: You can say it. Jon Stewart: The magical... I'd rather not. Larry Wilmore: Good, that was a test.
Also spoofed on a segment specifically on the N word, where one of the (white) correspondents dragged Larry around with him on interviews for the sole purpose of saying it. (Members of other minorities made very brief cameo appearances to provide their own examples of slurs.)
Despite this, Stewart himself actually used the word nigger recently in order to make a point (ie, it was not directed at any persons nor used as a slur). The segment came out very strongly against those who do so casually. Additionally, he's pretty much given the rest of the staff free rein with making Jew jokes (Stewart himself is Jewish).
Spoofed in a Running Gag involving a minor controversy over a hunting camp with an unfortunate name regularly used by Rick Perry. Perry keeps avoiding saying its name for obvious reasons, and none of the Daily Show staff want to either, so whenever it comes up they replay a clip of Herman Cain explaining that "the place is called Niggerhead".
A 2012 episode had one of the black correspondents use it twice to a PETA advocate, who was stunned speechless.
For the "Wilmore Awards", one of the categories was "White people who think it's okay to use the N-word". Wilmore uses it to make a point, and then makes clear that no, adopting a black kid does not give you N-Word Privileges.
The show did a skit where Colbert talked about people using the word "negro" to a point where any more use would make it acceptable in any context. He then kept repeating the word, soon getting the audience to join in and one of his stage hands. He then asked Morgan Freeman to join in. Freeman slowly shook his head "no", prompting Colbert to end the segment.
Colbert has a Running Gag of "I don't see race. My friends tell me I'm white, and I believe them because of (insert reason here)". One of the reasons was him not allowed to say the "N" word.
There is also Colbert's interview with Jabari Asim, author of The N-Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn't, and Why:
Colbert: First question. Did you want to name the book The N-Word and they said, "No, you have to call it The N-Word"? Or, did you say, "I want to name this book The N-Word," and they assumed you meant, you know, The N-Word, when in fact you meant The N-Word?
Asim: I think I suggested calling it The N-Word and they thought it was a good idea to play it safe and call it The N-Word.
Colbert: OK, this actually, this raises another interesting subject to me, is that the N-word has become so anonymous [sic] with the N-word, uh, is saying the N-word pretty much like saying the N-word? Because I would never say the N-word, but I don't want somebody to think I'm saying the N-word by saying the N-word. You know what I mean? Because I would never say that word that begins with the letter after M.
Then, on July 26, 2011 Stephen parodied this by using Reagan in place of the n-word, after Obama quoted Reagan in his calls to raise taxes on the rich.
He also had an idea for Southerners who are offended by the word "slaveowner" to do the same thing that black people did with the N-word. He then starts calling everybody "slayvah" (e.g. "slayvah, please").
There were issues with this word in regard to Executive Meddling over Chappelle's Show, and apparently this is one of the reasons Dave abandoned it. On the show itself, parodied with the "Niggar Family" sketch.
A running gag of a Mind of Mencia sketch involves Carlos Mencia attempting to get a license plate with some permutation of letters similar to the N-word. (Claiming his family is Indian and their family name is Neega, etc.) Finally, he asks for a plate with the word "wetback" (an equivalent word, but used to attack Mexicans) and is immediately approved.
Spoofed on an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry suspects a dentist converted to Judaism just so he could say Jewish jokes.
Priest: And this offends you as a Jewish person? Jerry: No, it offends me as a comedian!
In another episode, after Jerry accidentally offended an Asian mailman by asking him directions to a Chinese restaurant (figuring that as a mailman, he would know the neighborhood), he laments, "Since when am I not allowed to ask a Chinese man where a Chinese restaurant is? When someone asks me "Hey Jerry, which way to Israel" I don't fly off the handle about it!"
On The Muppet Show, pigs are particularly sensitive to non-pigs who make reference to the meat of pigs, even the mention of Sir Francis Bacon as part of a panel discussion on whether he was the true author of works attributed to William Shakespeare. Pigs, on the other hand, can make such jokes freely.
A variation on this appeared on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip when Matt writes a sketch in which Jesus Christ rises from the dead to become the president of network Standards and Practices. The result is that everyone in the scene ends up saying "Jesus Christ" a bunch of times—something standards would not ordinarily allow—and the ACTUAL standards & practices people would have had a hard time stopping him.
There was a similar skit on Conan O'Brien's Late Night. Two priests are berating Conan for questioning the doctrines of Catholicism (Conan's faith). In the midst of this, Jesus himself walks out onto the stage, causing a shocked Conan to yell, "JESUS CHRIST".
Andy Sipowicz of NYPD Blue was a fairly mild - but still straight-up - racist in the show's early years (from a combination of his father's racist attitude influencing him, and his distaste at being placed undercover to infiltrate a left-leaning militant black group just after his return from Vietnam). He began to get over it when he arrested a black man who taunted Sipowicz by saying that he was "dealing with a nigger who knows how the system works", causing Sipowicz to respond that he was "dealing with a nigger who's too dumb to know when someone's trying to help him." After the man's death, which Andy felt responsible for, Sipowicz apologized to the man's young daughter for referring to her father with "that word". The man's wife coldly told her daughter to remember that Sipowicz was "the man that called your daddy a nigger", causing Sipowicz to later emotionally lament the woman "telling that little girl to hate me", and also realize that his attitude was helping perpetuate the cycle.
In the Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Third Wheel", Alex and her new wizard friend make fun of media portrayals of wizards by donning pointy hats and beards. When Harper tries to join in the fun by holding her hair in front of her face and pretending it's a beard, both Alex and Justin tell her it's offensive.
Sanford and Son used the n-word (in its slightly modified form as "nigga" or "niggaz") on a few occasions, but these scenes were later edited or redubbed. One such scene, an early allusion to the "Driving While Black" phenomenon (long before that phrase became commonplace), yielded what is said to be the biggest studio audience laugh reaction of the entire series, yet it has routinely been cut in syndication.
The N-Word has been used exactly once in all five Star Trek series (making up hundreds of episodes), in the Deep Space Nine episode “Far Beyond the Stars.“ By a black dude. In the 1950s. And you could feel the tension when he said it.
There was an episode of The Original Series ("The Savage Curtain," a.k.a. "The Lincoln Episode) where (a recreation of) Abraham Lincoln refers to Lieutenant Uhura as "a charming Negress," then immediately follows it up with "Oh, forgive me, my dear. I know in my time some used that term as a description of property." Uhura's response: "But why should I object to that term, sir? You see, in our century we've learned not to fear words."
This Hour Has 22 Minutes has a sketch parodying the Kramer rant where Gavin Crawford interrupts a co-anchor's report to apologize for saying "the n-word". We then see a clip of him shouting "Newfies!" a couple of times. Search "Gavin Crawford says the n-word" on Youtube to find. This Hour Has 22 Minutes is filmed in Halifax (Nova Scotia) and has had a predominately Atlantic Canadian cast, although Crawford is from the Prairies. He's also been in several sketches as a fish out of water around Newfoundlanders. There's one where he's an military officer doing rescue work in Newfoundland and people keep trying to help him unnecessarily, even when they're ridiculously injured. Then the Newfoundlanders talk behind their backs about him not being a good guest and letting them fuss over him. The other one is a spoof of a crime drama where he has no idea what anyone is saying to him - accidentally letting a suspect go and not realizing a woman is hitting on him as a result.
Rescue Me subverts this to hell and back. More specifically the scene where the crew is forced into Sensitivity Training. Damn near every racial slur in the book gets brought up in the five-minute scene.
Despite his typically free usage of racial slurs, the N-word was left unsaid by Archie Bunker until eight seasons into All in the Family. In the episode "Two's A Crowd," Mike learns the origins of Archie's bigoted ways (his abusive father) while the two are locked in the storage room of Archie Bunker's Place. At one point, Archie relates a story of how a black student in his school beat the hell out of him, after Archie called him a nigger - because "that's what they called those people in them days."
A few seasons earlier, in the episode "Lionel's Engagement," Archie frowns upon George Jefferson's use of the word.
There was a whole episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm that revolved around Larry getting into trouble for telling a story and quoting someone saying "nigger" and then avoiding usage of the word when telling people what happened when a black person was present.
The second episode of Louie opens with Louie and his comedian friends discussing whether it's okay to say "faggot" (one of these friends being gay) on stage or not. Said gay friend says that he personally is not very affected, but for any other gay people who would be in the audience, the word's very powerful, as they've most likely had it hurled at them repeatedly, or said while they were being beaten. The gay friend also said while he had no problem with Louie using it because "he knows he's joking", he would not let another card buddy (who has a habit of always having to have the last word) use it, because "you really mean it". After an uncomfortable silence, said card buddy breaks the ice with a "faggot" joke, which causes all of them (including the gay friend) to burst into laughter.
In the episode of My Name Is Earl where Joy's affair with Darnell comes out in the form of a Chocolate Baby, Earl is (rightly) questioning Joy and how this could have happened. She doesn't want to admit she cheated, so she tells him that he might have "a repressed black genie," going on about how "his great great grandmother must have let a slave get in a few licks of his own." A black nurse in the room looks at her and says, "Excuse me?" to which Joy replies, "Oh, it' OK, I just had a black baby. I can say it." The nurse just rolls her eyes.
In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dennis angrily refers to a man from Israel as a Jew. Charlie and Mac immediately stop him, saying that he had offensively used a "hard J." Dennis objects, saying that the man is factually a Jew, but Mac and Charlie insist that context is important. Later Mac refers refers to the same man as a Jew and Charlie tries to stop him, but Mac interrupts, saying that his context was appropriate and that he had thought about it ahead of time.
Averted in the Reality ShowBlack and White, which featured an African-American family and a White family switching places with each other (by the use of body paint) in order to experience what it was like to be the other race. The son in the black family explicitly did not care who used the N-word in his presence, whether they were black or white. The rest of his family felt that he should take the matter more seriously than he did and, most interestingly, a white girl with whom he was acquainted objected to his use of the word.
Davis is under the impression he has privileges despite being white, since he lives in a predominantly black neighborhood. He's violently taught otherwise. In fact he was verbatim quoting a black person at the time, but the people overhearing the remark didn't know that, or didn't care.
Later, Delmond is offended by New Yorkers criticizing New Orleans, despite often saying the same things himself. "I get to say that. They don't!"
Implied in an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, where Peralta complains that he won't be able to sing along to his favorite rap songs when in the same car as Captain Holt (who is black).
Hip Hop: Black rappers say the N-word constantly. White rappers do not. Hispanic rappers, oddly enough, do say the N-word, however.
In 1969, in the U.K., in the course of being interviewed by a Nova magazine reporter, artist Yoko Ono said, "... woman is the nigger of the world"; three years later, her husband, John Lennon, published the song "Woman is the Nigger of the World" (1972) - about the virtually universal exploitation of woman - proved socially and politically controversial to U.S. sensibilities. It's worth noting, though, that many prominent black entertainers of the day were among the most ardent defenders of the song.
Almost subverted by Eminem, who refuses to follow his rap peers and use the N-word in his hits, even though he used the derogatory term on a tape he recorded as a teenager. The rapper has repeatedly apologized for the slip-up, which was recorded when he was 16, and he insists he's far from comfortable about using the N-word in songs these days. He says, "It's just a word I don't feel comfortable with. It wouldn't sound right coming out of my mouth. If a white kid came up to me and said it, I probably would look at him funny. And if given the time to sit down with him I'd say, 'Look, just don't say the word. It's not meant to be used by us.'"
Averted then played straight with the reaction to Elvis Costello's song "Oliver's Army", which contained the lines "All it takes is one itchy trigger / One more widow, one less white nigger." The song came under fire in the US, as many felt the slur was targeted towards blacks. The song was actually about British imperialism and oppression of the Irish by English loyalists ("Oliver" being Oliver Cromwell), the "white nigger" slur referring to the Irish as a common insult (still) used by their oppressors. Elvis's father soon came out in his son's defense, as Elvis is of Irish descent. The song is hardly censored when played on radio stations in the UK.
Marilyn Manson is infamous for pushing arbitrary boundaries, and that includes dropping the N-Bomb in his songs. With Manson being very white and wearing makeup to make him seem whiter, one would think this would cause controversy...except the most famous example was probably his cover of Patti Smith's "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger" (see below) on the Smells Like Children album. Smells Like Children was right about when he blew up and became known in the mainstream consciousness, and people were already incensed over his "satanic" imagery and lyrics. (This was the mid-90s, recall.) That being said, it still didn't stop people, even his fans, from occasionally getting pissed at him when he'd sing it on tour. The video Dead to the World covers his Antichrist Superstar tour, where he was threatened with incarceration if he said the dreaded N-word, or did anything else the cops didn't like, so he had a black man cover his cover. During another performance of it, someone managed to bean him on the head with a glass bottle.
The word also appears in "Irresponsible Hate Anthem," where it was much less controversial, partially because the lyrics are borderline-incomprehensible anyway and partially because it was used in an obviously non-racial context. Whether this makes it okay or not is up for debate.
Patti Smith's "Rock 'n' Roll Nigger" drew criticism, though generally not outrage, at the time. Most people understood that Smith was trying to redefine the word, but she didn't have the clout for the idea to gain traction, which it probably wouldn't have even if Bruce Springsteen had recorded it and sent it to #1. There were no widely known covers of the song until it was featured on the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, after which a handful emerged, including Marilyn Manson's.
Demonstrated by the NOFX album White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean, referring of course to the members of the band.
Speaking of the term heeb, that's an in-group reclamation of the anti-Jewish slur "hebe" (from "Hebrew"). Its original and most notable use is in the title of the counter cultural magazine Heeb: The New Jew Review. The founding editor, Jennifer Bleyer, claimed that the staff chose the new spelling for "design purposes," but it seems more likely that they wanted to avoid misplaced protests from Jewish advocacy groups (which they've gotten anyway).
The album was originally entitled White Trash, Two Kikes and a Spic, before one of the band member's grandmothers complained.
NOFX exhibited this trope during a live show recently. Fat Mike, the Jewish lead singer, told this joke: "Why do German shower heads have eleven holes? Because Jews have ten fingers." Ouch.
Similarly, dc Talk had an interlude on their "Free at Last" CD that said they were "just two Honks and a Negro, serving the Lord."
Also, the interracial R&B band Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers was originally named "Four Niggers and a Chink", referring to the fact that four of its members were black, and one was Chinese. The "Chink" in question was Tommy Chong, who would later become a comedian and half of Cheech And Chong.
"One In a Million" by Guns N' Roses. Axl thought he did... he doesn't.
Ice-T defended the song, saying that he wasn't offended because he didn't think Axl was racist. Guns N Roses were early supporters of Ice's metal band Body Count.
David Allan Coe's come under fire for this. His 1977 single "If That Ain't Country" contains the line "workin' like a nigger". Furthermore, he released a pair of underground comedy albums through the back pages of a biker magazine, Nothing Sacred (1979) and Underground Album (1982), containing, in addition to a lot of sexually explicit humor, a couple of songs that have been slammed by critics as being racist, after Coe started selling the albums through his website, particularly the track Nigger Fucker (at the beginning of DAVID ALLAN COE - 18 X-Rated Hits ). It's noteworthy that Coe's drummer on these albums was African-American and married to a white woman, and Coe himself also said in defense of the albums that he has long, dreadlocked hair and dresses like "a New York pimp". "Nigger Fucker" arguably comes across most clearly as satire because of its raunchy sex jokes, but Coe's other controversial underground song, "Rails", is pretty unnerving due to containing the lyrics "niggers made me vote for segregation" and "the Ku Klux Klan is bigger, so take the sheets off of your bed and let's go hang a nigger". The fact that Coe had a black drummer on that song doesn't help.
There's also instances of Fan Dumb related to these songs, and you can find some idiot fans on YouTube videos of Coe's songs expressing racist viewpoints. Mainstream journalists weren't much help, either, as a New York Times piece was so poorly researched that it incorrectly identifies a lyric from the white supremacist singer Johnny Rebel's song "Some Niggers Never Die (They Just Smell That Way)" as being from one of Coe's X-rated albums, even though country biographers had identified Johnny Rebel as a Cajun singer named Clifford Joseph Trahan, and neither this song, nor any other Johnny Rebel song, appear on Coe's albums. (In fact, the Johnny Rebel song in question was featured in Crispin Glover's avant-garde movie What Is It?, if you want to confirm the performing credits.)
Coe's collaboration with Pantera, Rebel Meets Rebel, contains a song called "Cherokee Cry", which reeforces Coe's statement that the racially-themed songs from his X-rated albums were satire, as "Cherokee Cry" is very sympathetic to the plight of Native Americans in the United States.
Also Twiztid. In Blaze's "Here I Am" (which featured Madrox and Monoxide), they got in on the fun. Here's a piece of the chorus: "Here I Am / I'm right here, dawg. Well here I am / Right here, nigga!" And let's not even get into "Old School Pervert".
The Dead Kennedys song "Holiday in Cambodia" uses the word, though it's mocking the type of rich, spoiled kids, who would brag that they "know how the niggers feel cold and the slums have so much soul". Also worth noting, that the Dead Kennedys had a black drummer for a period of time.
Though when Serj Tankian and the Foo Fighters covered this song live, they opted for the word "Brothers" instead.
It's candied apples and ponies with dapples you can ride all day! It's girls with pimples And cripples with dimples that just won't go away ! It's spics and wops and niggers and kikes with noses as long as your arm! It's micks and chinks and gooks and geeks and honkies (Honk! Honk!) who never left the farm!
Pink Floyd used the word "coon" in "In The Flesh" and "Waiting for the Worms" to represent a stereotypical neo-Nazi viewpoint. No huge controversy ensued, largely because The Wall's second half is a pretty obvious Take That at neo-Nazis.
Randy Newman's "Rednecks" and "Christmas in Cape Town", both sung from the viewpoint of racist characters, feature the n-word among other slurs.
X used several such slurs to describe the thoughts of the racist protagonist of "Los Angeles".
Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy avoided the trope, but occasionally wrote lines such as "down in Skid Row, where only black men can go", that would be considered inappropriate if sung by a white man.
One notable and controversial violation can be found in the Murder Remix version of the Jennifer Lopez song I'm Real, where Jennifer drops an N-bomb completely out of nowhere and unprovoked. Her excuse was the fact that the song itself was written by Ja Rule.
The Offspring's song "LAPD" from their album Ignition. It's actually part of the chorus, "Beat all the niggers, beat whoever you see. Don't need a reason. LAPD!" This song while using it in a derogatory sense is supposed to be from the point of view of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Wale's song "The Kramer" addresses the issue of rappers saying "nigga" in songs they know are being listened to by white kids who repeat it and say it themselves and around their black friends.
Japan got away with it in "...Rhodesia", mostly because a line like "Oh, Nazis in full attack/Burning niggers in a cotton field" can't really be construed as endorsing Rhodesia's then-racist government.
The Swedish Rap Metal band Clawfinger has a song titled "Nigger" on their debut album, the song itself has a lot of anti-racist lyrics and anti-racism is a common theme in their music. But due to the fact that the band members are all white this caused a lot of controversy and caused the track to be pulled off of North American releases. The track was replaced by a song titled "Get It" which the lyrics contain a slew of the most vulgar and angry words they could come up with, but none of it could be interpreted as racist so it was okay.
Kreayshawn, the (white) rapper who did "Gucci Gucci" is getting in roughly one shitstorm per week over this, thanks to her so-called "White Girl Mob."
When Anya Marina (a white singer) covered T.I.'s "Whatever You Like", she changed some of the lyrics from "niggas" to "brothers", presumably because of this trope.
The song Everyday Normal Crew by Canadian comedian Jon Lajoie features the following exchange:
"This is my nigga K.C.!"
"What the fuck you just call me?"
"Sorry... I'll say friend. This is my friend K.C., the only black friend in the group[...]"
When all-white rock group Dynamite Hack had a novelty hit with their calm, acoustic-guitar-based cover of Eazy-E's "Boyz N The Hood", they kept the line "young niggas on the path throwin' up gang signs", although the version played on radio of course blanked it out along with other potentially offensive language. This didn't go without controversy, but the band defended it as an effort to not tone down the content of the original.
The song "Elvis Ate America" off of the Passengers album Original Soundtracks 1, has Bono naming different things attributed to Elvis Presley, and includes the line "Elvis, the white nigger".
Real life subversion: One early Pearls Before Swine strip had a joke about a ridiculously unhygienic Greek restaurant. A lot of people missed the memo that Stephan Pastis is Greek and complained.
This is fairly common, when one considers that Borat has been labeled anti-semitic (Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish), and so has Family Guy (which has a number of Jewish writers).
The Boondocks usually censored it but the practice was still in place with the characters. At one point, two opposing sides of the debate N.G.R.O.E. and N.G.G.R. are presented and contrasted. The author himself has no problems using the word in real life.
While talking with John Cena at the 2005 Survivor Series, Vince McMahon said "What's up my nigga?" Meanwhile, Booker T was watching from a short distance away as Vince walked off, and said "Tell me...I did not just hear that."
There's a different group to get pissed off at you in this country for everything your not supposed to say. Can't say Nigger, Boogie, Jig, Jigaboo, Skinhead, Moolimoolinyon, Schvatzit, Junglebunny. Greaser, Greaseball, Dago, Guinea, Wop, Ginzo, Kike, Zebe, Heed, Yid, Mocky, Himie, Mick, Donkey, Turkey, Limey, Frog. Zip, Zipperhead, Squarehead, Kraut, Hiney, Jerry, Hun, Slope, Slopehead, Chink, Gook. There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of those words in and of themselves. They're only words. It's the context that counts. It's the user. It's the intention behind the words that makes them good or bad. The words are completely neutral. The words are innocent. I get tired of people talking about bad words and bad language. Bullshit! It's the context that makes them good or bad. The context. That makes them good or bad. For instance, you take the word "Nigger." There is absolutely nothing wrong with the word "Nigger" in and of itself. It's the racist asshole who's using it that you ought to be concerned about. We don't mind when Richard Pryor or Eddie Murphy say it. Why? Because we know they're not racist. They're Niggers! Context. Context. We don't mind their context because we know they're black. Hey, I know I'm whitey, the blue-eyed devil, paddy-o, fay gray boy, honkey, mother-fucker myself. Don't bother my ass. They're only words. You can't be afraid of words that speak the truth, even if it's an unpleasant truth, like the fact that there's a bigot and a racist in every living room on every street corner in this country.
George Carlin actually got away with using the word nigger during one of his HBO specials, while mocking the founding fathers. "This country was founded by white slave owners who wanted to be free. 'All men are created equal' - yeah, except Indians and women and niggers, right?" Note that despite being white, the context of this quote resulted in a lot of black audience members clapping and/or nodding along with what he was saying.
Rich Vos, following a tasteful joke about Obama's black heritage to an audience filled with black people enjoying the show, only to be called out by one black audience member. Naturally, he chose to question it:
They're all upset about the white guy talking about black people. Loosen up. Turn on any black comedy and watch black comics trash white people for an hour. "White people crazy! They pay taxes! Crazy ass crackers!".
Brazilian group Casseta & Planeta had a Black and a few Jews on their squad, so they used this as a justification for any politically incorrect humor with slurs. A skit had said the black member doing a soliquoly and being interrupted:
-Shut up, nigger! -Nigger like those who built Brazil... -Shut up, darky! -Darky like Pelé, who even screwed Xuxa... -Shut up, spook! -Spook my ass, motherfucker!
Louis C.K. has said in a routine that he prefers for people to just say the word, rather than saying "The N Word". His reasoning is that it forces the person hearing "The N Word" to think of the actual word, so you might as well just say it and take responsibility yourself instead of making others think it involuntarily.
Donald Glover talks about this, saying that some black people just can't say the n-word.
(Imitating Obama) "We stand here today, there are still some Americans who don't believe I have their best interests at heart, and I'd like to put those fears to rest today. But before I do that, I'd like to talk about how niggas be trippin'. They be trippin'. Niggas be trippin. Especially when bitches be around."
He discusses it again in his hour-long special, saying that Charlie Sheen has N-word privileges after he had the audacity to call his white wife a "nigger", and that in order to remove the stigma, more white people have to start using the word casually, even though "we will lose some of you in the process".
Gary Owen has a pretty creative way of getting around this problem, while admitting to using the word quite frequently when he and other whites are not around blacks.
Eddie Gossling put it simply:
"Some people wonder why black people can say the N-word and white people can't. And I think it's because we haven't always used it correctly in the past. Our N-word privileges have been revoked."
In Rifts' Underseas, members of the Amphib race (humanoid mutants with fish- or frog-like features) are sometimes teased with names like "Froggy" or "Fish Face" as children. But since Amphibs have been accepted in Tritonian society since before the Great Cataclysm, it's treated as no big deal, and something that the kids eventually outgrow. In other words, Tritonia has F-Word Privileges.
In a old psone game called Bust a Groove, two songs, Pinky's theme "I Know" and Hamm's theme "I luv Hamburgers. Both use the n-word.
Fire Emblem Path of Radiance employs this. The Beorc (humanlike folk) refer to themselves as "human" and the Laguz (beastmen) as "sub-humans", with the latter being an ethnic slur. The Laguz have turned that on its head towards the Beorc. Thanks to the racist member of the party giving him the wrong impression, Ike thinks that "sub-human" is the correct term for Laguz but after realising its real connotations he stops using it and starts addressing both races by their proper terms.
Arguably in Fallout 3, the term Ghoul referring to anyone whose flesh has been flaked away by radiation. They've also been called zombies due to their appearance, not to mention many ghouls refer to normal looking people as smoothskins.
In Psychonauts, the term spoon-bender, an offensive term for psychics, is used by the psychics themselves. In their community, it implies the use of psychic powers in petty ways.
In Zettai Hero Project, after repeatedly referring to himself as a "loser underdog", Bizarro Frank gets very mad at Etranger when she does the same (because, unlike him, she isn't a loser underdog herself).
In Mass Effect 3 you can find Joker talking with EDI about an old Rachni Wars joke (2,000 years old), dealing with a Salarian and a Krogan and playing off racial stereotypes. The Salarian is twitchy and nervous while the Krogan is bloodthirsty and callous. EDI comments on how insensitive the joke is but Joker points out that the joke is one that is told equally by both Salarians and Krogan, commenting on the idea that being able to share a joke like that helps you get past your other issues.
Parodied in Sinfest when Squigley, an anthropomorphic pig, berates the human Slick for calling him "pigga" as a term of endearment. He says that only pigs can call each other that (see the previous page).
Then, played more straight when it's revealed that, no, Slick does not have N-word privileges.
Parodied in Keychain of Creation, with "'nathema." Nathema is a shortened form of Anathema, a rather unkind way of referring to Celestial Exalts (unkind in much the same way as referring to someone as a "witch" in Salem in the late Seventeenth Century is unkind).
Polkster from Polk Out makes Jewish jokes and can get away with it because he's Jewish.
In a BiterComicsstrip, a white guy's black friend explains to him why it's not okay for him to say the n-word.
When Tatsudoshi hosts his Spam Plays, he and his guests usually leave their humour completely uncensored...except for "nigger", which only The Khold One is allowed to use because he's Southern. Hilariously inverted during the Spam Play of Mirror's Edge, where Khold becomes a bit too trigger-happy with his Cluster N Bombs and Tatsudoshi takes away his "nigger privileges" for a few episodes, and later imposes a limit on the number of N-bombs per episode.
But apparently, the constant flow of Asian jokes were just fine, except when Khold said 'Rice N*** er', that counted as two. (Ding)
The image board 4 Chan defies this trope, using the word "fag" to refer to everyone. Anonymous who draw are "drawfags", writers are "writefags", and there are even a few Christians on the boardnote Don't ask how someone can use 4chan and still be a Christian. Just don't. who refer to themselves as "Christfags". They also like to use the word "nigger" to refer to certain black people, much like the Chris Rock routine mentioned above. Interestingly, some Anons have forsaken the "-fag" suffix in favor of "-friend".
Most likely those people are newfags.
The term's use as a suffix meaning "person" is also taken to its logical conclusion, and in threads about sexuality, you'll see "straightfags," and yes— "gayfag."
Defied, again, for Trollvorlord from Bronyism, as he doesn't consider the n-word to be a racial slur—more specifically, one towards African-Americans—and often uses it for individuals of the Caucasian persuasion.
Diamanda Hagan, despite being portrayed as (almost) utterly evil, still doesn't have these privileges, as she found out when trying to review a film with the n-word in the title.
In that same video she is pissed when the censor machine goes haywire and it lets pass many other racial slurs, but one word is censored that she does have privilege to say (possibly 'mick', as Diamanda is Irish).
Diamanda: I can't say *BLEEP*? I am a lesbian *BLEEP*! Who built that damn thing?!?
Minion: You did, mistress! I think you were drunk!
The Nostalgia Chick, a self-admitted bigot who likes to thinks she's a Sassy Black Woman, threw a bit of a sulk when Nella turned the hoover on just as she was about to say the N word.
"Oh, come on, I can't say m[beep!]t?"
The Rap Critic has it, but chooses not to say it directly out of choice - at the end of his "Bitch Bad" review, he lectures the audience on the song's belief that reclaiming slurs for which you have these privileges (like the song's use of "bitch") just reinforces the need for the ugly version of the slur to exist, and then adds, "isn't that right, ni - " before being cut off by the end credits. However, he has used the word in writing, while criticising songs (using macro images). He also sung it in a skit imagining Black Rob experimenting with his sexuality, quoting from his song "Whoa".
In contrast, Todd in the Shadows censored out the word in his subtitles when reviewing "N***s in Paris", or attempted to - the subtitles instead censoring out "P***s", much to his frustration.
Beached Az had the koalas that refer to everyone as "bear" but that's their word and the whale is not allowed to use it.
Dragon: What's a pegger like you doing out of the fields? Fluttershy: Oh, hell no! You can't say that word! Only pegasus' can say that word!
In the Let's Play series Mario Party TV, the Ztars (or Dark Stars, or Shadow Stars, or whatever you call them) are nicknamed 'nigga-stars' by most of the players, and the phrase is used liberally. Lampshaded at one point when one of them (the Token White) argued that they should be more 'politically correct' and call them "African-American" stars. It should be noted that the majority of the MPTV cast members are black.
This was played around with in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, where "flatscan" is a derogatory term used by some superhumans for normal human beings. When the supervillain Armageddon, leader of a metahuman supremacy group, dismissed Diamond (a Powered Armor wearing heroine) as "an uppity flatscan in a tin suit", she told him flat out that he didn't have "F-Word Privileges" before blasting him with her lasers.
Although one episode has an aversion, Butters is confronted by the ghost of Biggie Smalls. Smalls threatens to shoot Butters unless he takes him to a party Satan is throwing. When Biggie tells him what to do, Butters just repeats what Biggie says, including the N word.
It's getting this way with "fag". South Park spoofed this in the episode "It Hits The Fan" (also known as the "shit" episode because they say shit 162 times), with Mr. Garrison explaining that even though they could all say "shit" without getting bleeped, he was the only one who could say "fag", since he is gay. Uncle Jimbo then inadvertently outed himself by saying "fag" without getting bleeped.
However in a later episode, everyone even someone with a girlfriend like Stan can say "fag" without being bleeped due to those bikers. So because of this it's unknown if Jimbo is gay or not.
On With Apologies to Jesse Jackson, South Park parodies the infamous Wheel of Fortune "Clam Digger" moment. Stan's dad was a contestant on Wheel of Fortune and, in the bonus round had the clue "People who annoy you" and the letters on the board read "N_GGERS". Obviously nervous about what the fallout will be, he repeatedly verified that he was allowed to say "it", then dropped the only word he could think of, "niggers", without realizing that the answer was "NAGGERS". He's soon branded the "Nigger Guy" by everyone after saying the word on national television. It pisses him off so much, he rallies the public together to amend the Constitution and make it illegal to say the phrase ever again.
In the episode, The F Word, the kids reappropriated fag to mean "people who make an ass out of themselves on motorcycles," Hilarity Ensues.
South Park creators get a somewhat free pass to make fun of Jewish community, as Matt Stone has Jewish ancestry (doesn't care for religion though). Undermined by Stone being agnostic, but reinforced by main target of this slur (Kyle Broflovski) being based on Matt; shows how ambiguous this "rule" can be.
One episode took it Up to Eleven: Cartman exploits the living hell out swearing when he learns about Tourette's Syndrome... proceeds to feign it... and launch a cascade of thinly-veiled insults at anyone with working ears- especially Kyle. And it works gloriously.
"STUPID FAT MOTHERFUCKING JEW!!"
A whole episode of The Boondocks was devoted to this subject when a white teacher called Riley a 'nigga', with the excuse that Riley himself used it so much it lost all meaning. Riley and Grandad celebrate what they see as a chance to sue the school district, but nothing comes of it and nothing is resolved.
Subverted when Ed and Rumy, who are white, address each other as the n-word, and no one seems to think that is odd. Of course it helps when your dad 'owns the police'.
Of course, Ed and Rumy are voiced by Samuel L. Jackson and Charlie Murphy, so it doesn't have any more questions to raise about privilege there.
The whole concept of a "Nigga Moment" or "Nigga Synthesis" (which, when combined, equals a Complete Disaster).
The infamous "Return of the King" episode takes place in an Alternate Universe where Martin Luther King, Jr. was only rendered comatose by his assassin, and woke up in 2000. Long story short, while he is pleased in some ways he's aghast at many others. At the end, he delivers a scathing speech, starting with "WILL ALL YOU IGNORANT NIGGAS PLEASE SHUT THE HELL UP?!" after failing to call the audience's attention more diplomatically. (He then almost immediately apologizes after using the word again, calling it the ugliest word in the English language, but proceeds to use it for emphasis several times during the speech.) He attacks many aspects of the prevailing culture, including Black Entertainment Television, certain aspects of rap music, and the movieSoul Plane, and lists a number of negative qualities of "niggas," and concludes by telling them:
"I've seen what's around the corner. I have seen what is over the horizon, and I promise you, you niggas have nothin' to celebrate! And no, I won't get there with you! I'm going to Canada."
The episode attracted considerable controversy, including demands from Al Sharpton for a public apology for having King use the phrase "niggas."
Of course the creator of The Boondocks, Aaron McGruder, is an African-American who feels he has N-Word Privileges.
The entire series makes good use of this trope, every episode. In DVD Commentaries, McGruder defends it as something black people hear and say on a daily basis, so to leave it out is a disservice.
Inverted on The Simpsons, Homer complains about a gay character using "queer." "That's our word for making fun of you. We need it!"
Also parodied in the "The Haw-Hawed Couple" with the word bully, which only bullies are allowed to use.
An episode of Family Guy briefly parodies The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn with Peter reminiscing about his ancestor "Huck Griffin". We then see (you guessed it) Nigger Jim — which, despite common belief, he was never called in the book — shouting at Huck for using "their word" when referring to him ("I thought that was your name!"), followed by Huck tentatively asking "N-Word Jim" to pass him the oar. The punchline is that Jim finds this substitute completely acceptable and thanks Huck for his sensitivity.
Shortly after that, we see Peter and Brian are playfully calling each other "my nerf herder".
In one more recent episode, everyone thinks the world is ending so they're living for the moment. Peter tells Lois that he's going to go to a majority black neighborhood and shout "that word" to see what happens. He returns wearing Requisite Royal Regalia and a sash that reads "King of the Black People", informing Lois "They respected me for it."
Amazingly not abused on Drawn Together, despite the show sometimes careening into episodes full of Vulgar Humor. In fact the only outright racist things said are all said by resident Cloud Cuckoolander Wooldoor Sockbat when he's in scientist mode and the satirically naive and gated Clara. Neither one of them use slurs either, just use old 'white' justifications and reasoning in their rants/research. They do, however, work stereotypes into show canon, like the one episode with Minstrel Foxxy. Possibly because they couldn't come close to topping the South Park examples without being canned. (Unfortunately, they did anyway!)
That may be true with regard to black slurs, but there are other examples of the trope in evidence. Both creators are Jewish, and the show is filled to the brim with jokes about Jews and Judaism. (This is also an example of Self-Deprecation.)
Referenced in a The Cleveland Show episode: When Rollo accuses Cleveland of breaking his leg, eating all his fish sticks and tater tots, sitting in his chair, and calling him the N-word, Cleveland shrugs and says "I'm allowed to, right?" In another episode Lester, mistaking every black person he sees in New York as Cleveland, uses "that word you call Rollo all the time" off screen. He is going to be killed until Cleveland turns up to rescue him and invokes an apparently well-known rule to the crowd that he gets one free pass on use of the word if he has one black friend.
WARNING: Results may vary.
The show has to tread somewhat lightly in this department, largely because Cleveland himself is voiced by a white guy. It even drew flak before the first episode aired for referencing his "happy black-guy" face in the theme song.
In a non-verbal example, one episode features a situation where Cleveland has disguised himself as Lester, complete with whiteface; Holt enters dressed as Cleveland in blackface, to which Cleveland angrily responds "We may dress up as you, but you may NEVER dress up as us!"
Played with in American Dad!, episode "White Rice." Francine has a budding stand-up comic career based on her experiences growing up... as a white girl adopted by a Chinese family (she performs under her unmarried name, "Francine Ling"). Her catchphrase is "I can say it; you can't!". Her privileges are later revoked, however, as as her sitcom is pulled after one Asian joke.
Subverted on King of the Hill. Khan, a Laotian, attempts to make a good first impression on some of his Asian friends by making jokes about his heritage. Turns out they're not amused.
Khan:(showing off his pool) My redneck neighbors built it for me! Maybe I'll make them build a railroad next- how's that for revenge? Ted: Khan, the railroads were built by the Chinese, not Laotians. Khan: Same difference. (The other Laotians gasp) Khan: I-It's a joke! (beat) Maybe too far?
There's also Bobby's innocent but horrible "Amazing Jesus" escapade in front of an entire Methodist church... and nobody is amused.
A real-life aversion, thanks to Culture Clash: all South Africans refer to mixed-race people of black and white descent as "coloured". The word is not considered pejorative, even when used by foreigners.
Unfortunate real life inversion. A black teacher in New York read a book to her students (of multiple races) about a black girl who learns that it's OK to have a different hair cut from her other friends (metaphor for racial tolerance). The teacher was fired because the parents got upset over the title of the book: Nappy Hair.
Don Imus got in a lot of hot water for saying "nappy headed hos" live on the radio.
It wasn't just that he used that phrase, it was that he directed it at a specific college basketball team (the Rutgers women's basketball team, to be exact), making it a personal insult.
Black was a racial slur when the term Negro was in use—which was the neutral term you'd be looking for, and the trope-naming term was simply a degraded form of it; "black" got co-opted hard during the 1960s; most notably, James Brown had a hit titled "Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud".
This is in line with the Portuguese etymology of the word "Negro", which is to date a neutral term to refer to black people. The word "Black" is just as derogatory as the English "Nigger", except for not being such a taboo.
The Spanish-speaking ("negro" also means "black" in Spanish) Uruguayan football player Luis Suárez tried to claim this as a justification when he was banned and fined for racial abuse for repeatedly calling the black French player Patrice Evra "negro" during an argument on the pitch. Didn't work.
Romanians are not allowed to refer to black people as Negrii (which literally means black, was adopted independently from the N word, and was never used as a racial slur). They are on the other hand allowed and even encouraged to use Cioroi which literally means Crows, and is a quite intentional racial slur.
It's somewhat tricky in Polish. While the N-word is commonly translated into "czarnuch" ("czarny" being the Polish equivalent of "black" and the suffix "-uch" being used in derogatory slurs) the use of another word, namely "Murzyn", also tends to cause some heated debates every once in a while. The problem is that the origins of Murzyn lie in the word "Maur" (Polish for Moor) that used to denote the Muslim inhabitants of North Africa, regardless of race. However, the term sounds dangerously similar to the verb "nurzać" ("to dip", for instance in coal tar), because of which as of now there still seems to be no end to the controversy. On the other hand, the people of Poland historically had very few occasions to interact with Africans as she never established any colonies and even now the rate of African immigration to Poland (or any other ethnicity for that matter) remains pretty much nonexistent, thus putting the whole debate more or less in the field of pure theory. Some of the few notable African immigrants in Poland have expressed conflicting views as to Murzyn's supposed offensive factor.
In modern American usage, many people of African descent actually prefer "Black" over African-American for various reasons. If you don't know what to call someone, it's always better to ask than to assume.
A more successful example of this is American use of the phrases 'Otaku', 'Nerd', and 'Geek' where even the INSULT version doesn't offend.
A certain Italian restaurant in the Denver area had a "WOP-burger" on the menu. Needless to say, there was a huge furor over it, when an Italian-American from New York found it offensive. (The owners of said restaurant were also second-generation immigrants, like he was.)
On the other hand, the president of an Italian-American group wanted the license plate "TOP WOP," but California refused his request.
An Italian in the Detroit suburbs had an ice cream shop/convenience store called "Falsetta's Dago Dip'' - someone had him change it to "Dandy Dip".
Dennis Rodman, probably from his years in NBA locker rooms, wrote that in his opinion, "If a white guy is around a black guy enough, he can call the black guy a nigger and everyone understands its playful. But once you put it out in society, it becomes a whole other situation."
Indian Sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh was famously put in charge of a Chicago drug gang for a day. In his book, Gang Leader For A Day, he describes how his attempt to talk the part became awkward when he asked a man to "talk to me, nigger" who had just been perfectly okay with the real gang leader saying the exact same thing seconds previously. Needless to say everyone else involved was black. In fact the real leader drew a class distinction between Black, African-American and Nigger and had earlier refused to identify as black.
An incident of this effectively ended the Monday Night Football career of Howard Cosell. During the season opening game in 1983, there was a shot of Alvin Garrett, a black receiver for the Washington Redskins, running up and down the field. Cosell infamously quipped, "Look at that little monkey run!" The outrage that stemmed resulted in his being run out of the booth after that season ended. What was forgotten/ignored was that Cosell was far from a racist (he was a close friend of Muhammad Ali) and that he had used a similar comment with some white players with no complaints.
Wayne "Dog" Chapman got into hot water when a recording was brought to light in which he refers to the girlfriend of his eldest son as the word. Ironically, the conversation is about Chapman worrying that the girl would get him in trouble for using the word.
Notice how, around the wiki, whenever people quote Boondocks or some similar show or person who does have N-Word Privileges, they tend to be very careful to write it as "nigga" instead of "nigger"? This almost seems to be a technical adherence to the belief they don't even have quoting privileges (though as George Carlin once said of dirty words, they still mean the same thing).
The "Black people vs Niggaz" routine... Note that in recent years Rock himself has become uncomfortable with that routine, due to the number of truly racist whites who use this argument as justification for saying the n-word.
The verb "to niggle", which just means to haggle over trivial details and also has no connection to the other word, is equally problematic.
There was even a fuss when Flavors of Negros, a Filipino food franchise offering dishes from Negros, which is an actual name of a region in the Philippines and is pronounced very differently from that plural N-word that has an e before s, started showing up in the U.S.
Ivan Stang of the Church Of The Sub Genius coined the term "po'bucker" to describe ignorant, usually southern, white trash. He's used it at times to describe himself, in spite of being a university-educated Jew, someone legitimizing his "P-word" privileges.
Comedian Mike Birbiglia inverts this with a small skit on Two Drink Mike. "This black guy came up to me after a show and he says, 'My cracker.' 'Actually, you can't call me a cracker. You can say 'cracka ', but not 'cracker '.
Another comedian to have gotten away with it was Bill Hicks, whose "Officer Nigger Hater" routine from Arizona Bay is a big Take That at the LAPD (it's the last in a series of three tracks dealing with the LA riots of 1992). Much like Carlin above, no controversy ensued due to the context (specifically, mocking the acquittal of the officers who beat Rodney King).
The word was used by Terry Jones in the song "Never Be Rude To An Arab", which was sung on some live shows and can be heard on some Monty Python albums. He also says racial epithets for Hispanics, Italians, and Germans in the same line before being blown up and dragged off stage by a man in a frog suit.
Conversely, some feminist bloggers have drawn male ire by casually using "dude" and "bro."
Tim Minchin" "Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger."
Comedian Lisa Lampanelli, a white woman, claims to have this. Pretty much all of her material revolves around it, though. Gays, Mexicans, Asians...pretty much any separable group aren't safe either. This is mostly because she's an equal-opportunity insult comic in the vein of Don Rickles; she's a regular at Roasts and is nicknamed "The [Lovable] Queen of Mean."
Middle Eastern-origin comedians Ahmed Ahmed, Aron Kader and Maz Jobrani formed the Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, the very name of which invokes this trope. Their acts frequently revolve around the Middle Eastern/Muslim equivalent of N-Word Privileges—terrorism. Jobrani has a joke about how "we're making progress! Because I'm starting to see Asian Drivers in car commercials. But you'll still never see a Middle Eastern pilot in an airline commercial."
Many people cheerfully adopt the derogatory nicknames assigned to them by other cultures, such as the Japanese "gaijin" ("foreigner"), Chinese "laowai" ("old other/foreigner"), "gweilo" ("ghost man"), the Spanish "gringo," and Hawaiian "Haole."
It is common for people in Polish-American households to use the derogatory term "Polack", rather than the awkward "Pole" to refer to their (former) compatriots. Which makes sense, as referred to earlier, it sounds exactly like the term they would often use anyway when speaking Polish to refer to male Poles (though spelled Polak).
According to the late actor Carroll O'Connor, as far as Irish-Americans are concerned, everyone has N-Word Privileges when it comes to the slur "mick." Yes, go ahead and say it. Irish folks don't mind. In fact, they find the word funny. (This is somewhat ironic when one remembers what enormous Berserk Buttons the Irish are reputed to have, particularly when they're drunk.)
There is some debate around ableist slurs like "retard", and what level of mental problems one needs to have in order to use them. However, this is a somewhat different case, as the term, like all terms used to describe people with below-average intelligence, are part of what is known as the euphemism treadmill, due in part to the fact that such terms are appropriated as a simile for being of low intelligence. Thus, retard is only the latest in a long line of terms, including dumb, idiot, feeble-minded, moron, imbecile, and cretin, once used in polite company to describe the mentally retarded, and now appropriated as a term meaning "of low intelligence". Indeed, all terms which can be used to describe mentally disabled persons can and will be used in this way; mentally challenged, mentally disabled, "differently abled", and "special" are all commonly used as insults.
The usage of "the R-word" by people with mental disabilities is an interesting one to discuss. Unlike race, being neurologically disabled doesn't have such high recognition as a marginalized identity and it is only in recent years that speaking out against using the word "retarded" and its derivatives as a pejorative has gained an image as a genuinely activist thing to do rather than the actions of an oversensitive Moral Guardian. Because of this, many people understandably feel uncomfortable with the idea of neurologically disabled people using them in an N-Word Privileges context. Yet for people with certain mental disabilities such as autism/Asperger's syndrome, AD(H)D, Tourette's syndrome, etc., they've been targeted with it for so long that you can certainly understand why they would want to use it in this kind of context. On the other hand, though, people with these disabilities are often closeted about them and if they are especially good at passing as neurotypical, then using the R-word gets further away from N-word privileges and closer to being an ableist asshole, especially when the person is genuinely using it as a pejorative. However, it is pretty awesome when you see or you are someone with a mental disability using the word in an N-word privileges context to effectively call someone out who is being a jerkass.
Disabled person: I may be a retard, but I know an asshole when I see one.
Sex columnist Dan Savage was called on using the word "retarded" to mean people being stupid by one of his readers, and decided to replace the word with "leotarded," because people who wear leotards on a regular basis are stupid, without him having to offend anyone.
It should also be remarked that Savage's original name for his column was "Hey, Faggot!", partially because at the beginning he was mostly interested in giving straight people shitty dating/sex advice (much like how straight advice columnists gave gay people shitty dating advice), and partially to show his allegiance in a debate raging at the time in the LGBT community about whether or not to reclaim the words "faggot" and "fag" (Savage being on the reclaiming side of the argument) He eventually changed it to "Savage Love" when he got more serious about the advice giving game
Savage has also recently gotten flack for being transphobic, even getting glitterbombed over it. In one of the occasions he was glitterbombed, he was attempting to explain the difficulties with the word "tranny." Savage himself has offered the opinion that if he's a transphobic bigot, the world needs more transphobic bigots like him
Similarly, Savage has chewed out organizations like GLAAD for giving a hard time to straight comedians/talking heads like Howard Stern, who have in the past made jokes about their instinctive discomfort around gay people but who are largely very supportive of gay people
Incidental case: when The New Yorker had a deeply insulting cartoon of the hillbilly madness that would hypothetically ensue from the Olympics being held in Georgia, they got a ton of angry letters. When Jeff Foxworthy did a whole routine along the same lines in his stand-up nobody apparently gave any outcry. Why? Because Foxworthy is from Georgia. Being a southern redneck he's allowed to knock rednecks and the south: it's his main schtick.
In one sketch, he does elaborate exactly what he considers to constitute being a redneck - basically, it's "a glorious absence of sophistication." This leaves it open for anyone to be a redneck, no matter where they're from, and Foxworthy says that as far as he's concerned, people can go in and out of being a redneck within their lifetime.
It would appear the privileges can be abused as well. Many members of the Hungarian socialist party claim to be jewish (and technically have jewish heritage). Then one of them made a particularly mean spirited antisemitic joke on a holocaust commemoration event.
There is a comedy troupe called Asperger's Are Us, made up of four young men who all have an Asperger's diagnosis. They put on comedy acts where sometimes the joke is about autism traits such as this one, where a designated autistic guy tackles another guy he just met and perseverates to him about how awesome Ralph Nader is. But it's not really mean-spirited fun at the expense of autistic people because the people making the joke are autistic themselves.
The status of the term "aspie" is ambivalent.
Sarah Silverman apparently has this after she openly used the word "chinks" on Late Night On Conan O'Brien. Silverman even refused to apologize, forcing O'Brien to do so.
"The title refers to the controversy over Perry's West Texas hunting campground where the candidate has entertained friends and supporters. The campground's former name, "Niggerhead," was painted on a rock at the entrance for many years."
The word "queer" amongst people who are LGBTQ and their allies. This word has a long and ugly history as a homophobic slur, especially against male homosexuals and some people still use it in this context. However, some people use it as a non-pejorative umbrella term for those who identify as non-heterosexual and some within the LGBTQ community will actually use the word "queer" as their label. Understandably, some people feel uncomfortable when they hear someone using the word "queer" in an N-Word Privileges way because they have grown so familiar with it as a slur.
This also extends to the word "fag", a derogatory term which, despite having homophobic roots, is also infamous for its modern usage as a common yet versatile derogatory term (which has been notably deconstructed on a few comedians). note As pointed out by South Park, it can mean "bundle of sticks", "poor person", "military rank filler", "undesirable old woman", "cigarette" and now "Harley Motorcycle owner".
Louis C.K. believes he has f-word privileges:
Louis C.K.: I would never call a gay guy a faggot unless he was being a faggot, but not because he was gay. [...] If I stumbled upon a couple of fellows blowing one another's respective [penises], I'd be respectful. But if one of them took the dick out of his mouth and said something faggy like "People from Phoenix are Phoenicians", I'd say "Shut up faggot!".
Using the word "gay" has become this in many ways. Queer people can use it to describe things and actions to an extent, straight people can only use it to describe a gay man or woman's sexual orientation.
And then the Internet went and released a "ROBOTIC edition", where the offensive 'nigger' was replaced with 'robot'.
This got a teacher suspended because he thought he had this. Even being careful to say it "niggah" didn't work.
An interesting aversion of the trope: The term "Suffragette" was coined as a derogatory term by the Daily Mail. The Suffragist movement reclaimed it so successfully it stopped being seen as a derogatory term, no matter who was using it.
This extends to attitudes towards one's city as well. For example, people from Rust Belt cities like Cleveland and Pittsburgh constantly joke among each other about how their hometown is a hellhole, but it's a different story when an outsider does it. This can possibly be explained by the fact that people from the city in question take the good with the bad. They know what parts of town to avoid, and where to go to have a good time, own a home, etc. Meanwhile, those from elsewhere just repeat what the media says and don't really know what they're talking about.
While it is generally considered politically incorrect to call East Asians "yellow people" in the West, Chinese people will sometimes refer to themselves as huang zhong ren (黄種人/黄种人, "Mongoloid", or literally "yellow race person"). For example, in Andy Lau's patriotic Mandopop song "中國人" (zhong guo ren, "Chinese People"), he describes the Chinese as having "黃色的臉黑色的眼" (hunag se de lian hei se de yan, "faces of yellow, eyes of black"). The reappropriation of the term might have been helped by the fact that yellow is considered the most beautiful colour in Chinese culture.
Similarly, Chinaman was derived from a calque of the aforementioned Chinese term 中國人/中国人 (zhong guo ren), which is the most common name the Chinese use to describe themselves. When literally translated, it becomes "middle country person" (an obvious reference to the ancient name for China, the "Middle Kingdom"), and less literally, "China person" or "China man" (although, strictly speaking, Chinaman would be zhong guo nan ren, or "China male person). It became a slur when it was used to mock Chinese Pidgin English.
Interestingly, "Mongoloid" is still considered a slur but against people with Down Syndrome (Mongoloid used to be the medically accepted term for the condition).
When making a report on Knicks player Jeremy Lin's poor performance in a game, the headline of 'A Chink in the armor' (Which, coincidentally, ESPN has used numerous times on players of all ethnic backgrounds) resulted in the reporter getting fired along with a massive media backlash.
In South Africa, the word "kaffir" (derived from an Arabic term for "heathen", adapted by whites from the South African Indian community) is essentially equivalent to the American "nigger"; If a black (or even coloured) man says it, no one will bat an eye, but usage by whites is a high taboo. (Fortunately, nobody in SA seems to object to the naming of kaffir limes.)
In recent years, attempts have been made by some Jewish women to re-appropriate the term "JAP" (as in Jewish American Princess) and incorporate it as part of a cultural identity.
There's a somewhat equivalent phenomenon in sociology termed "Nixon in China." This is a Double Standard whereby a member of a group whose credentials are unimpeachable can get away with doing something for which his or her counterpart on the other side of the political spectrum would get roasted alive. Thus, Richard Nixon could negotiate with the Chinese during his presidency because he was already established as an anticommunist Republican, whereas a Democrat trying to do the same would not be so lucky.
This occasionally happens in French, where "nčgre" is still very much an insult, but it's also the term for "ghostwriter" (because of the slavery connotations).
Reginald D. Hunter is a black American comedian from Georgia who lives and works in London. When he first heard the common British racist euphemism "nig-nog", he refused to believe something sounding like that could carry the force of the N-word.
Nig-nog. Is that something we coloured folks drink at Christmas? Here, my man, have another glass of nig-nog.
In Italy, especially Northern Italy, people use the slur "Terrone" ("Earthly", "from the Earth" - a laborer filthy of earth) towards Southern Italians. Said word is very offensive, but a Southerner can, sometimes, use it with impunity when the word has some other meaning (like easy-going, open, friendly, in contrast with the much colder behaviour of Northerners).
It doesn't help that some people consider mutt an insult, to mixed breed dogs.
As a note, "mutt" can be used less offensively toward people whose ethnicities are considered to fall within one race. Some white people are quite proud, in fact, of being Scottish, Polish, Finnish, and Basque all in one person.
Similarly, asked about same-sex marriage during a debate while he was running for governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said "In my religion, we believe marriage should be between a man and a woman ... and another woman, and another woman, and another woman", a joke that no non-Mormon politician would have dared.
A Dutch fashion magazine briefly became the subject of international controversy after they referred to Rihanna as a "nigger bitch" on a cover, leading to the resignation of the editor in chief. They claim to have believed the phrase was a compliment, as they heard it used in some of her songs and assumed it was a term of endearment.
Incidents like this are becoming more and more common in general as rap and hip-hop continue to increase in popularity around the globe, sometimes in countries where the history of the N-word isn't known.
Quoth Roberto Benigni: "I Toscani bestemmiano perché sono piů vicini a dio, c'č piů confidenza!"English The Tuscans blaspheme because they're closer to God, there is more confidence! Any other Italian uses such language, and their asses are grass and the politicians, clergy, and/or broadcasters are the lawnmowers (depending, of course, on local laws on the matter).
Invoked by white journalist Jim Spencer at the start of an article about the Chewbacca Defense put up by one of four defendants tried for a bowling alley brawl, which allegedly started when the N word came up.
You honky punk, you redneck pig, you hillbilly cracker, you wimpy, fat, overprotected, rhythmless, short-striding, low-jumping, no-basketball-playing, small-handed, clumsy white boy. Are words like these enough to justify a riot?
The politician in question was forced to resign after the interview aired.
It is generally considered impolite in Canada to call a Newfoundlander a Newfie and/or tell Newfie jokes (such jokes imply that Newfoundlanders are stupid). But there are also quite a few Newfoundlanders who will refer to themselves as Newfies, and the word is not considered offensive in this context.
Wikipedia had a rough time and a long discussion for its entry for Knock, Knock, Ginger because evidently a very common name for it in the American Midwest is (or at least was) "nigger knocking". It took a lot of people mentioning in the discussion pages that yes, that was a name for it, and no, they're not proud of it.
During the Great Depression, migrant farmworkers were often referred to as Okies. The term was frequently used as an insult (and not a terribly accurate one, since many of the migrants were from states other than Oklahoma). In the September 1984 issue of National Geographic, though, several of these former migrants identify themselves as Okies; to them, it shows pride in their culture and their history.