When people are not allowed to say derogatory slurs, or similar comments about a group of people, unless they are part of that group or otherwise granted special dispensation.
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 considered acceptable if they are spoken by people belonging to the group the slur is about, or someone given special dispensation by members of that group.
The most notable is the word "nigger". Probably the most offensive word in the English language, it has been reclaimed and 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 non-black (especially white) individual, it can be an exceptionally effective method for getting some very dirty looks. (And if proof of this event happens to go viral on the Internet, as through social media, it's also a great way to lose your job, lose your spouse or significant other, have your business or brand boycotted, be expelled from school, be stripped of a title or an award, be doxxed and find yourself on the receiving end of nasty phone calls, and depending on the country, even going to jail for hate speech) .
The late comedian George Carlin (who was white) hilariously demonstrates the concept of N-word privileges in one of his skits: "Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, that's one of those words people aren't supposed to say. 'But why can Richard Prior or Redd Foxx say it?' you might ask. Because they're niggers!"
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" (a concept that doesn't exist in every Black community) 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. On the rare occasions where white people receive it, it's usually under very specific circumstances (e.g., being the only white kid in an otherwise entirely black circle of friends) and it is also understood that outside of those circumstances, they are not to use it.
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. May result in very unusual dialogue if combined with Fantastic Racism.
Note that simply using a slur is not enough. To be an example, the use of a slur must be considered acceptable for some people but unacceptable for others. If it's acceptable for everyone, or if it's never acceptable even for those who are part of the group to which the slur applies, it's not this trope.
- In Naruto the term jinchuriki means "power of the human sacrifice" and refers to people with bijuus sealed in them. The titular character (himself one of them) 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.
- George Carlin:
George Carlin: There's a different group to get pissed off at you in this country for everything you're not supposed to say. Can't say Nigger, Boogie, Jig, Jigaboo, Skinhead, Moolimoolinyon, Schwarzer, Junglebunny. Greaser, Greaseball, Dago, Guinea, Wop, Ginzo, Kike, Zebe, Hebe, Yid, Mocky, Himie, Mick, Donkey, Turkey, Limey, Frog. Zip, Zipperhead, Squarehead, Kraut, Heinie, 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.
- 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:
Rich Vos: 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!".
- Donald Glover:
- He talks about this, saying that some black people just can't say the n-word.
Donald Glover: [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".
- He talks about this, saying that some black people just can't say the n-word.
- Eddie Gossling put it simply:
Gossling: 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 properly in the past. Yeah, we got a little bossy with it. Our N-word privileges have been revoked.
- Elon Gold says that he can say "fag", because he has a brother who is gay, and if you have a gay family member who you love and support, then you can say "fag". Or if you have a black family member and you love and support them... then you can say "fag" too, because "you don't want to mess with that other shit".
- Chris Rock has visited the subject on several occasions:
- In one HBO special, he outlines the only instance in which a white person could have temporary N-word Privileges (for exactly one month). It's a very long drawn out scenario, involving a popular Christmas toy on Christmas Eve, being beaten up and peed on by a black man with a brick, within a certain time frame in the wee hours of the morning. Riverdance is also involved. If this improbable series of events occurs to you, you get privileges for a month. But you must carry the police report with you, to prove it happened.
- Rock has a "Black people vs Niggaz" routine in which he contrasts "black people" (nice, normal black folks who just want to live and let live) with "niggaz" (obnoxious people who live down to the worst stereotypes). In one pre-show sketch, a number of black fans tell Rock how much they love the routine without incident, but a white fan who quotes the routine by saying that he loves black people but hates "niggaz" receives a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown. 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.
- Another routine has him explain "Dr. Dre rules", which decree that it's acceptable for white people to sing the n-word as long as it's part of the lyrics in a rap song they're singing along to.
Chris: It's just sad to see some white person tryin' to do a niggaless rendition of a Dr. Dre song.
- Comedian Mike Birbiglia invokes this in 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 '.''
- Tim Minchin: "Only a ginger can call another ginger ginger."
- Subverted in a Eugene Mirman joke:
Mirman: Sometimes people say "I can say fag because I have a gay family member, thus it's okay". That's a horrible reason! See, it's okay for me to say fag, because I am full of hate!
- Rene Hicks, after relating a You Make Me Sic moment involving the word, proposes attaching it to something positive instead: snack foods.
Rene: And I'm gonna make some great flavors! Cheese Niggers. Sour Cream & Onion Niggers. And for my Latino brothers and sisters, Nacho Niggers. But no Barbecue Niggers, because I don't like the way that sounds. And the only time anybody will get upset when they hear that word again is when they're at a party and they don't have none. "What, no Niggers?! You can't have a party without Niggers! You got Crackers - nobody wants Crackers at a party!"
- In Y: The Last Man, white Yorick's black bodyguard, Agent 355, tells him, "Nigga, please!" when asked if she's in love with him. Later, when asked if he's in love with her, he echoes her answer. She gives him a momentary look as if she's about to object, and then apparently decides to let it slide, implicitly extending him N-Word Privileges, at least in the context of that conversation.
- In the original Quantum and Woody, an issue called "Noogie" starts with an intro explaining to the readers 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, who is black but whose costume covers his entire body, asks how the man knows he's black, and he responds "You're black? S-Word!"
- Meanwhile, Woody (unmasked, white, and a former resident of the same neighborhood as the poor black character above)) does throw "Noogie" around without anyone but Quantum complaining, demonstrating that he does have privilege, while Quantum does not.
- Referenced, Fantastic Racism style, in Ultimate X-Men:
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). At the end of his first appearance after being beaten by Superman, the Man of Steel uses this against him by taking a shot at his leadership skills, and then saying "And I can say that because I am a leader."
- From Ultra Fast Pony:
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 Discworld/The Big Bang Theory crossover The Many Worlds Interpretation, Raj Kooprathali displays Indian patriotism in his disparaging opinion of India's Pakistani neighbors. He uses a Hindu equivalent of the N-Word to describe Pakistanis in general and one colleague in particular.note The author stresses in a footnote that Raj can use the word as it's in a language mutually understood by Indians and Pakistanis. But to anyone outside the subcontinent it's a bit inflammatory.note The Pakistani colleague promptly comes back with the Urdu/Moslem pejorative "kaffir", which boggles the mind of a "South African" who is listening to the discourse. (See note below for "kafur/kaffir"). Mutual insult over, the two go away together amicably talking about cricket - always safe ground for Pakistanis and Indians forced into each other's company.
- The Celestia Code features a unicorn, Jigsaw, finding out about some of the things other ancient unicorns were doing, along the lines of tribal supremacy (in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic canon, the various kinds of ponies are referred to as tribes—and, in ancient times, they hated each others' guts). One insult that catches a shocked gasp from nearby Twilight is 'screwhead', referring to the horn. Jigsaw justifies it, being a unicorn herself: 'Hey, I'm a unicorn, I can use the S-word if I want!'
- Referenced in Ultrasonic, a crossover fic between Zootopia and Miraculous Ladybug. At one point Marinette wonders whether Chat Noir's signature cat puns would be offensive in the world of Zootopia, coming from anyone other than a cat (as Marinette is at that moment).
- A variation in How the Light Gets In, where Dean and Laurel are both recovered alcoholics. When Laurel is inexplicably resurrected, Felicity suggests making sure it's Laurel by offering her a glass of wine. Sara and Dean are both outraged by the idea, and a few seconds later Sara calls Oliver on his long-standing ableism towards Laurel. Upon waking, Laurel quips to Dean that she needs a drink.
Dean: What? We can joke about it
Laurel: It's called Gallows Humor.
- In the Harry Potter fanfic Imma Wiserd, the black narrator and the other Hogwarts characters (who are race lifted into blacks) use the word "nigga" repeatedly. When the narrator is jailed, a white police officer calls him a nigger and gets eaten by a dragon.
Turtle: Why did you put me in here? I didn't do anything.
Officer: Because you're a nigger, and as you know, we the police hate niggers.
Kiwan: YOU CAN'T USE THAT WORD!
Turtle: Yeah, that's our word!
- Here We Go Again!: Lance Corporal Darian "Rampage" Wilkes Jr. USMC regularly uses this on the other members of his tank crew, despite one of them being white and another hispanic. It's also made clear that Wilkes loves them all like brothers.
Wilkes: I spy with my little eyes... something black.
- An early shining example as Horsemen Platoon rolls through the Gate into the Special Region with the joint JSDF/USMC expedition:
Elton: Oh shit, Rampage, lemme fucking guess, uh nothing?
Wilkes: Naw, nigga, you!
- Blazing Saddles. The black characters in the movie use the N-word toward each other in a friendly manner, but 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. Screenwriter Richard Pryor actually had to reassure the actors who were not comfortable with the use of the word on set.
- 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 Rush Hour, Carter (Chris Tucker) says, "Wassup, mah nigga!" to some of his friends at a bar — after having told Lee (Jackie Chan) to follow his lead. When Carter leaves the room to question an informant, Lee (who's new to the United States) cheerfully uses the same greeting with the bartender, completely unaware of any Unfortunate Implications. It doesn't go down so well. And when Lee is asked to repeat himself, he says it AGAIN, slowly and clearly...
- 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, which they are clearly used to doing as black men but which is horrifying coming out of the mouths of what (ostensibly) appear to be white women. 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 at their transgressiveness.
- Bamboozled has an in-character discussion of who is actually entitled to N-word privileges, based heavily on Spike Lee's personal gripe with Quentin Tarantino frequently using the word in most of his films. 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!"
- 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!?
- 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."
- In the 1950 film The Lawless, fruit pickers Lopo and Paul address each other as "cholo," but when overprivileged white boy Joe uses the term, those are fighting words.
- 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.
- In The Hebrew Hammer, Mordecai Jefferson Carver (Jewish) and Muhammad Ali Paula Abdul Raheem (black) address each other as "my kike" and "my nigger" when they first greet each other in the film. When the Token White Guy points out that they just called each other by racial slurs, they say, "It's OK when we say it."
- An example of privileges beings extended (sort of) to a out-group member from Brian's 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'.)
- 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 with them, since they're his friends.
- One of the things that escalates the tragic situation at the end of Fruitvale Station is that a white BART cop mockingly repeats the phrase "Bitch ass nigger" after Oscar says it. When Oscar tells the cop that he doesn't get to say that, the cop repeats it again just to rub it in.
- Inverted by Gregory Peck in Gentleman's Agreement to his Jewish secretary since he thinks it's wrong to be using those words — even when you're referring to yourself, as she did when she called herself a "kike" — when 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, her right to use the word is questioned, but she reasserts it by using it several more times in the next sentence.
- Boyz n the Hood: Subverted. The black police officer Coffey uses the N-word freely... because he's a terrifying Boomerang Bigot who hates other blacks. When he uses it, it's with genuine mal intent.
- In Dope, Will comments that it doesn't seem fair that the main three can call him the word but he can't use it.
- Defied in Coach Carter:
Carter: N***r is a derogatory term used to insult our ancestors. See, if a white man used it, you'd be ready to fight. Your using it teaches him to use it. You're saying it's cool. Well, it's not cool, and when you're around me, I don't want to hear that shit! Are we clear?
- Discussed, parodied, and deconstructed in Clerks II. Randall and Dante get into a debate about the term "porch monkey". Dante feels it's a racist term aimed at black people while Randall feels it can just be used as a general term for people being lazy with no relation to race. Dante tries to argue that only black people can use the word because of its origins, only for Randall to point out that dictating what people are allowed to say based on their skin color is just as racist as using the word to begin with.
- The Green Inferno: When a passerby gives Kaycee a look after hearing her say something disparaging about Jews, she says "I'm Jewish" and shows her a Star of David pendant she wears.
- Deep Cover: Played with. Lt. Carver interviews three different black police officers to see if they can be recruited for his undercover program by bluntly asking each of them "What's the difference between a black man and a nigger?". The first one tries to awkwardly answer the question thus showing that he's too docile, the second one flies into a rage which shows that he's too easily provoked, but the third calmly tells him "only a nigger would answer that question" to show him as more cunning and diplomatic than the previous two. At the end, he does repeat the question and punches Carver in the stomach.
- Undercover Brother. Conspiracy Brother (who is black) uses the N-word when talking to Conspiracy Brother, who is also black. None of the members of The Man's white supremacist organization (Mr. Feather, The Man himself, White She-Devil etc.) ever use the word, even though, being out-and-out racists, they logically would.
- In Valdez Is Coming, Valdez does not like the various racial epithets that Tanner and his men casually hurl around ('nigger', 'coon', 'greaser', etc.), but he and his friend Diego have no problems in referring to themselves as 'greasers' when there are no Anglos about.
- The equivalent 'n-word' for Dwarfs is "lawn ornament" which is considered a capital 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."
- Throughout the series, being called a monkey is the Librarian's Berserk Button (orangutans are apes, thank you very much). Even saying the word monkey, regardless of the context, will get his dander up. However, he has used the word monkey himself several times. In The Science of Discworld, he uses the phrase "Monkey see, monkey do" after teaching Roundworld's proto-humans to use tools. Rincewind replies, "I'm glad it was you who said it."
- The Librarian grants at least one person a temporary M-Word Pass; a couple of upperclassmen had told a new student that "Monkey" was an affectionate nickname for the librarian. The Librarian pats the kid gently on the head and takes out his wrath on the upperclassmen instead.
- It's a deadly insult to abbreviate a goblin's Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom, and goblins have little patience for human ignorance on the subject, given the horrible Fantastic Racism goblins regularly suffer. There's one example of a goblin who allows a trusted human friend to call him by a nickname — they're both cops, and the goblin reasons that in a fight it's easier for the human to call him the shortened name than the full name — and other goblins are mildly scandalized by 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.
- Warhammer 40,000, especially in the Eisenhorn novels, uses a Fantastic Racism variant. 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". Similarly, it's entirely acceptable for psykers to refer to themselves as "brainjobs" and for non-psykers to call themselves "blunts", but for either group to use the other's term is highly offensive.
- 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 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 O'Malley 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.
- 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.)
- Subverted in Black Man. When Carl (a Brit of African decent) spends some time in a Florida jail he doesn't appreciate when his fellow black inmates uses their privilege.
- Dresden Files:
- Ebeneezer McCoy is friends with a Native American member of the White Council and refers to him as "Injun Joe". Joe makes it clear that McCoy is the only person allowed to call him that because they've been friends for several lifetimes. He also gets in his own zingers, responding that McCoy is too much of a backwoods hick to realize that the modern, politically correct term is "Native American Joe".
- Karrin Murphy is a vehement feminist who reacts badly to any man saying sexist things...yet has no problem calling Harry a "pussy" when he refuses to jump into a lake. Harry totally accepts this.
- Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I.: Dan finds the off-color monster jokes of his BHF (Best Human Friend) McGoo objectionable, but has no problem with the vampire jokes in Tiffany's open-mike comedy routine. When McGoo complains about the inconsistency, Dan points out that, being a vampire herself, Tiffany is "allowed" to tell jokes like that.
- Used and discussed in The Fifth Season with "rogga", the Fantastic Slur for people born "cursed" with the Functional Magic of orogeny. Essun is very uncomfortable with fellow orogenes who call themselves roggas — one to destigmatize the word, another to emphasize how utterly nightmarish The Empire's Dehumanization of orogenes really is — but coldly tells a non-orogene newcomer not to say "rogga" because she hasn't earned that level of trust yet.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- Charlie is Mistaken for Racist in one episode because he repeats something said by Dee's black friend, which happened to include a use of the N-word. He's apparently unaware white guys aren't supposed to say it.
- Lampooned in another episode, where Dennis, Charlie and Mac get into a heated discussion about whether or not the word "Jew" is offensive. At one point, Mac argues that it's only okay to say if you're actually Jewish and surrounded by other people of the Jewish faith.
- During an episode where the characters perform a "Freaky Friday" Flip and all turn into black people, Frank is excited at the opportunity to finally say the n-word without repercussion and even sings a song about it, despite Dee repeatedly telling him not to.
- 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. 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.)
- Boston Public:
- An episode 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.
- 30 Rock:
- Played with when Tracy calls Toofer by the "n" word. The square Toofer didn't know about how the term had been reappropriated, and he makes an official complaint about it to Jack, who 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 its meaning." This is made even funnier when Toofer then starts to come around to the idea and attempts to use the N-Word in the same way, only for everyone to react with offense that he has just "dropped the N-bomb", and Tracy wants to make a complaint - 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 and Liz are also under the impression that "Puerto Rican" works like this.
Jack: No, I know that's what you call you, but what do I call you?
- In another episode, Liz refers to herself as a "sister" during a phone conversation with a black woman, only to quickly claim she meant it in the "feminist" way. She then tries to claim it's okay for her to use "sister" while talking to black people because she too is black, but ends up admitting she isn't when she realizes she's going to meet the woman in person anyway.
- 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."
- The Daily Show:
- 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.)
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- The Colbert Report
- 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 his not being 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.
- 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.
- Seinfeld: Spoofed on an episode where Jerry suspects a dentist converted to Judaism just so that he could make Jewish jokes without causing offense. He also still tells Catholic jokes, justifying it by saying he used to be Catholic. Jerry theorizes that he's after "total joke-telling immunity" and is afraid that "if he ever gets Polish citizenship, there'll be no stopping him!". Later Jerry visits the dentist's former Catholic priest and tells him about this.
Priest: And this offends you as a Jewish person?
Jerry: No, it offends me as a comedian!
- 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. This is also seen The Muppet Movie, where Miss Piggy twice reacts visibly to pig jokes. First, a Mad Scientist threatens Kermit in front of her, which is already a bad idea in and of itself, but then he compounds the offense by claiming that soon Kermit wouldn't be able to tell her apart from "kosher bacon". Later, when Dr. Teeth is mentioning numerous policeman euphemisms, when he gets to the P-word, Miss Piggy crossly cuts him off before he can completely spell it out.
- A variation on this appears 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 and Practices people would have had a hard time stopping him.
- Andy Sipowicz of NYPD Blue is 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 begins to get over it when he arrests a black man who taunts Sipowicz by saying that he is "dealing with a nigger who knows how the system works", causing Sipowicz to respond that he's "dealing with a nigger who's too dumb to know when someone's trying to help him." After the man's death, which Andy feels responsible for, Sipowicz apologizes to the man's young daughter for referring to her father with "that word". The man's wife coldly tells 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 is helping perpetuate the cycle. No one, apparently, objects to the man's original self-applied use of the word.
- 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.
- In one episode of How I Met Your Mother Marshall says 'something' that offends his travel buddy Daphne, and she is shown yelling "You don't get to call us that! Only we're allowed to call ourselves that!" To which he responds "...I'm sorry I called you a Trekkie."
- 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 says while he has 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 gene," 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's OK, I just had a black baby. I can say it." The nurse just rolls her eyes.
- In another episode, Earl and Randy are in Shady Grove, which is populated by members of a carnival Freak Show. Earl cautions Randy not to call them "freaks," even though they call each other that, saying that "It's like when black guys call each other...you know."
- Averted in the Reality Show Black 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.
- Treme: Delmond is offended by New Yorkers criticizing New Orleans, despite often saying the same things himself. "I get to say that. They don't!"
- Key & Peele has a sketch which is an advertisement for a smartphone app called the "negraph", which examines the darkness or lightness of the user's skin and determines whether they have N-word privileges. Dark-skinned individuals and families cheerfully announce, "We can say it!" while a white man in a suit and tie announces, just as cheerfully, "Not a chance! I'd like to, but now I know I can't."
- The hosts of Queer Eye routinely call themselves and each other "fag," "queen" and so on, while the straight guys they make over stick with "gay." (Even the title was a bit edgy at the time the show premiered, since positive uses of "queer" weren't much heard in the straight world outside of academia.)
- The creators of Hogan's Heroes cast Jewish actors for many of the characters (particularly the German ones) to dispel any potential complaints that the show's lightheartedness was a disservice to the victims of the Holocaust.
- Black-ish: One episode revolves around this discussion after Jack gets in trouble for saying the word while singing "Gold Digger" (uncensored) at a school talent show. Whether or not it was okay for him to use the word in public even though he's black is debated back and forth, as well as who else can say it (Dre angrily argues that white people are trying to punish his child because they're jealous of his N-Word Privileges. The school principal, who is also black, feels that the school's no tolerance for hate speech policy should apply to everyone). In an interesting aversion of the Latino Is Brown trope, it's mentioned at one point that certain Latinos can say the word if they're street enough (Fat Joe is allowed, Ricky Martin is not). In the end, Dre comes to understand that the word has different meanings to other people (including other black people) and it's best that it not be used in mixed company while the school lets Jack off the hook since he clearly wasn't using the word with hateful intent.
- Ash vs. Evil Dead: Ash's mean boss believes he's allowed to call Ash a "retard" because his "gardener is a huge one."
- Adam Ruins Everything, in the episode "Adam Ruins Animals," two of the cats (represented by humans in costume) call each other "pussy". Adam claims it's OK when they say it, even though that's not the really true.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of Schitt's Creek, where small town mechanic Bob cagily asks if he's allowed to call Johnny "Jewish," even saying that it sounds like a bad word.
- Averted in Luke Cage (2016). The title character gets pissed at hearing this word, even and especially if another black person uses it. His reactions range from going into a Character Filibuster or "World of Cardboard" Speech or just plain kicking the user's ass.
- Late Night with Seth Meyers has a segment titled "Jokes Seth Can't Tell", where in an attempt to circumvent Seth's status as a straight white man, he is joined by two of his writers, Amber (an African-American woman) and Jenny (a lesbian). Seth will set up a news-based black or lesbian joke, and one of the women will deliver the punchline in his stead. At the end of the segment, the two invariably pressure him to tell one joke, promising he won't get in trouble. When he tells the joke they call him out on his prejudice, and he calls them out for lying to him.
- Dear White People: This is the cause of Reggie's fight with a white student, the latter having said the word in repeating the lyrics of a rap song. Sam later also tells Gabe she'll say it, but he can't, though light-heartedly.
- Atlanta: Alfred explicitly asks the Ambiguously Brown Zan "Are you even black?" when Zan casually uses the word. Zan says that yes, he is.
- On the Modern Family episode "Farm Strong", Clare tells Cam, given that he's from a farm in Missouri, that his sister was weird for bringing a pig to a party, which he takes offense to.
Cam: You know, we all have to protect my sister in my family because she's such a disaster. I mean, you can see it, right?
Clare: I think it was a little weird she brought a pig to a party.
Cam: Hey! I can say it.
- On Mad TV, a sketch called "Reality Check with Tova McQueen & Velma Buttons", Senator Trent Lott attempts to apologize to Velma and Tova for making offensive remarks toward the African-American community to which Velma refers to Senator Lott as a "Re-nigger", much to the shock of her co-host Tova, Velma justifies by pointing out that she has the right to say it because she's black.
- The Good Place: Celestial entities from the Bad Place are annoyed whenever humans refer to them as demons, but they use that word to refer to themselves all the time. They also call entities from the Good Place angels without blinking, but it's a little unclear how the "angels" feel about that. Since the demons pretty much only do things to annoy people, they probably don't like it.
- On Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher faced heavy criticism for joking about being a house nigger during an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE). The following week, both rapper Ice Cube and Bernie Sanders advisor Symone Sanders were guests on the show and explained why Maher could not use the word, even during a comedy routine. Ice Cube in particular deconstructed the logic by which many white people believe they can use but still cannot. A clip of his comments is linked here and is quoted here.
Ice Cube: It's in the lexicon... but that's our word now. That's our word now, and you can't have it back.
- Victorious had an episode where Rex called himself a puppet. Robbie is confused, as he was told never to use that word around him. Rex responds by saying he can use it as he's a puppet.
- Eminem (a white rapper) refuses to follow his (almost entirely black) rap peers and use the N-word in his hits.note 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.'" The implication being that he'd have less objection to a black kid using it.
- Stylistic Suck hip-hop artist gmcfosho parodies this trope in "Miss My Ni".
Just change that N to a WMiss my wigga
- 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.
- Ed Sheeran performed a cover of OT Genesis' "CoCo", which features a few instances of the N-word, when he visited Trevor Nelson's radio show on BBC Radio 1 Xtra in 2015. He replaced the ones in the refrain with "man" and "and" respectively, and changed the line "niggas thinkin' that I'm solo" to "if ya thinkin' that I'm solo".
- When Sleeping With Sirens (which has a white singer) covered "Fuck You" by Cee Lo Green they didn't include the n-word. The previous line was repeated instead.
- Joe Jackson's "Real Men":
You don't want to sound dumb
Don't want to offend
So don't call me a faggot, not unless you are a friend.
- Implicit by Raleigh, NC nerdcore outfit [SiTH] Clan: only the band's two black members use the n-word, the two white members avoid it.
- White and Jewish rapper Lil Dicky has had a tough relationship with the N-word. On his song "White Dude," he wonders why a Hispanic rapper could say it. He eventually finally gets to say it in full in "Freaky Friday"- the premise being that he engages in a "Freaky Friday" Flip with black singer Chris Brown, and gets to spout the N-word while in Chris Brown's body.
- Random Assault: One of Matt's friends regardless of race said "Fucking Niggas in the butt." in which a Hispanic woman who overheard it looked shocked and afraid. Kate often claims that Tony has granted her The Privileges. In fact, Tony mailed N-Word Privileges cards to all the hosts.
- Eddie Guerrero: "You wanna be Latino? If you're not cheating, you're not trying!" Basically, saying something bad about Latinos and or Mexicans would get the expected reaction, but Eddie, and later his nephew Chavo Guerrero Jr., got to act out negative Mexican and Chicano stereotypes with impunity because Eddie was just that humorous and popular with the crowds. Turing Eddie heel was almost an exercise in futility unless he was facing El Hijo Del Santo or Rey Mysterio Jr.. Chavo usually turned heel almost immediately when his uncle was absent.
- A more literal example from Booker T.
- Obviously this accidentally slipped out, as Booker T later confirmed in an interview on youtube. He also mentioned he never used the N word again, but not long after that interview it slipped out again when he yelled it at Jonathan Coachman. This didn't get nearly as much notice because unlike Hulk Hogan, Coachman is black.
- Starting in Ultimate Pro Wrestling in 1999 was a wrestler who called himself "Lil' Cholo" (Lucha Underground viewers may know him as Cisco). While not quite strong as the "N Word", imagine a black wrestler calling themselves "Mulatto" or "Lil' Darkie". South of the border he has a contemporary who goes by "Cholo Azteca".
- 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."
- WWE Diva Ashley Massaro once said in an interview that Kelly Kelly, who is reportedly Jewish (though with her blonde hair and light blue eyes, she doesn't look it), is a big fan of the movie Borat - which is chock-full of anti-Semitic "humor" so vicious that even Mel Brooks probably wouldn't touch it.
- "The Beautiful Snow Bunny", SnowCal Chloe north of the Californian border and Wera Loca Taya Valkyrie south of it. Similar to The Dirty White Boy, the wide reach of white people in the industry means being announced as such or wearing it on your tights raises no eyebrows .
- Montel Vontavious Porter's song, Ghetto Strong Style, which he and Shelton Benjamin used as their tag team entrance music for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, makes liberal use of these privileges and includes a sampling of Booker T's infamous line. Also invoked and halfway defied in TNA, with his response to the inevitable, predictable criticism of his "Almighty Beat Down Clan"
"Thug is the new nigga!"
- Subverted with Rich Swann's Back Flip Nika Kick. Nika, with a k, kay? The fact that he calls one of his finishing moves the "Fried Chicken Driver" might be a straight example though. He still takes the suggestion he eats too much of it as insult.
- Lampshaded by WrestleCrap writer Art O'Donnell in the site's induction of the 2014 NXT debut of Becky Lynch:
You only get one chance to make a first impression, and for Becky Lynch, even her wrestling debut at age 15, her global experience, and her year in WWE developmental couldnt save her from bad ideas.Bad ideas like making your wrestling persona the biggest mick this side of the Atlantic.Hey, I'm an O'Donnell. I can use the M-word.
- Discussed Trope in the Jeremy Hardy Speaks To The Nation episode "How to Speak": Jeremy (who's white) says that he was at a debate of the positive and negative effects of hip-hop, including the use of language such as the n-word:
Jeremy: And there was this discussion about whether white people could ever use it. And I thought "Well, why would I ever want to use it?" It offends me, as a human. I am offended by the n-word because I'm not a c-word.
- Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!: With the n-word in question being "nerd". That is, host Peter Sagal claims the right to make fun of nerds due to being one himself. He says the same of jokes about Jews and New Jersey.
- 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 Warhammer 40,000, mutants refer to each other as "twists", however a non-mutant use of the word is considered an insult.
- In Shadowrun, the word "trog" (referring to orks and trolls) is used in much the same way as "nigger", including by certain orks and trolls who are trying to defang it.
- 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 realizing its real connotations he stops using it and starts addressing both races by their proper terms.
- 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).
- Played for Laughs in Skullgirls; Cat Girl Miss Fortune has this reaction when someone asks her if she can haz cheeseburger. She says it herself to (relatively-normal human) Filia without comment.
- In Red Dead Redemption II, the only characters who actually use the word "nigger" are themselves black. Everyone else, even heavily racist characters like the Lemoyne Raiders, tend to use less offensive terms like "darkie."
- In Disco Elysium, you can quote DMX's "Where the Hood At?" at one point at your Shivers skill, and it will quote you right back, but uses "brother" instead of "nigga".
You: Where the hood, where the hood, where the hood at?
Shivers: HAVE THAT BROTHER IN THE CUT, WHERE THE WOOD AT?
- 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.
- Death Battle: During the rundown for Goro vs. Machamp, Wiz brings up how the former managed to beat Kenshi despite missing all four of his arms, prompting Boomstick to remark that if they threw Professor X into the mix, it'd be "the ultimate, and definitely most offensive, cripple threat match". After a period of awkward silence, Boomstick defends himself by pointing out he's only got one leg.
- 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).
- Polkster from Polk Out makes Jewish jokes and can get away with it because he's Jewish.
- Leslie of Shortpacked! only lets people call her "the lesbian" if they sleep with her. This backfires the one time she invokes it against a woman she did just have a sexual encounter with.
- Schlock Mercenary: Gorillas have been uplifted to human level sapience, and since then a lot of primate-related phrases have been deemed as being racist. Unless you're a gorilla yourself, apparently.
- In The Hero Business storyline "The All-New Bravado," Superman expy Bravado goes through a series of revamps to make him more relatable. During a brief "Hipper and Edgier" stint, he addresses a team of X-Men stand-ins as "muties," which causes outrage because he's not a mutant and that is their word.
- Parodied in Muh Phoenix, with "mugga" being said freely by mutant characters. Captain America says it too, and the only one to call him out on it is the milquetoast Wolverine, though he relents in hopes of still being his Token Mutant Friend. Cap also says the actual n-word at one point.
- One Polandball comic◊ parodied this trope by having India disguise himself as Niger for the purpose of repeatedly rapping the word "Niger."
- Grrl Power: Maxima is telling Sydney to get her Cluster F-Bomb tendencies under control, using her stubbing her toe and insulting every Irish person on camera as an example. Sydeny then asks if that means she shouldn't say stuff like "potato deficient famine jockeys", cauing Maxima give a Big "NO!", and Harem to laugh, with a box saying Harem is allowed to laugh because she's part Irish.
- 4chan 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 board who refer to themselves as "Christfags". They also like to use the word "nigger" to refer to everyone, and in its absence they'll use an equivalent ethnic slur when talking about other countries. Interestingly, some Anons have forsaken the "-fag" suffix in favor of "-friend" or "-person" (probably as a joke over political correctness or to be able to use said words on sites where they are restricted). In threads about sexuality, you'll see "straightfags," and yes— "gayfags" and "fagfags."
- Mario Party TV has the Shadow Stars/Ztars/Z-Stars/Dark Stars nicknamed as "N-word stars" by the group and are constantly referred to as such. Lampshaded during Boo's Haunted Bash prior to the LP Every Mario Party project, where they take pains to point out the guy making the most jokes of that nature is black, and again during the first playthrough of 9.
- Chuggaaconroy has claimed several times that he's allowed to make fun of the French because he's part French himself. In his Super Paper Mario LP, he then goes on to say that pretty much all the stereotypes are true.
- 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!
- Disney Theme Parks reviewer Some Jerk with a Camera is Jewish. So he has multiple jokes about Jews, Jewish stereotypes, Michael Eisner being a Greedy Jew, and a few jokes about the Holocaust. His N-Word Privileges are lampshaded in a crossover review with Animated Analysis on The Black Cauldron.
Jerk: You're just jealous because I'm allowed to make Holocaust jokes!
Stephan: That doesn't matter!
Jerk: Hey everyone! Stephan just said the Holocaust doesn't matter!
- Two Best Friends Play tend to do a lot of racist jokes and all of them have said nigga or nigger, especially when they play gangsta games from the early 2000s or quote rap lyrics. One of their members, Woolie, is black and the other joked that he empowered them.
Woolie: Someone on Reddit called me a young Uncle Ruckus.
- The Yo Videogames crew has two black members, Kenny and Steve, who use the term "ninja" as an alternative; however, they do slip up on occasion, as seen when the group played Overcooked and Steve's antics made Kenny drop half an N-bomb before he stopped himself. Then we have the incident where Max accidentally said the word (he combined "ninja" and "ginger" via slip of the tongue). Rather than permission, Max was more concerned with forgiveness, especially after a few Trolls tried to smear him as racist, which really got to him; Kenny and Steve both said it wasn't a big deal because they know he's a genuinely Nice Guy who'd never use any kind of ethnic slur intentionally.
- Sidemen: Only the two black members, KSI and TBJZL, are allowed to say the N-word. This is apparent whenever they play Cards Against Humanity, as whenever there's a card that contains the N-word, they will let any of the two who is participating in the session to say the word regardless of who the current Card Czar is. Should neither JJ or Tobi participates in the session, then the others will censor the N-word as "Nigel" instead.
- IISuperwomanII: Lilly is proudly Indian, but that doesn't stop her from cracking jokes about her culture and heritage quite frequently. It's practically a Running Gag for her to make a snarky comment about an Indian stereotype, but preface it with, "I can say this because I'm Indian."
- Twice in the Real-Time Fandub of the Gravity Falls episode "Sock Opera", on-screen text points out that Sammi as Mabel can crack Nazi jokes to the "Aryan" Gabe since she's Jewish.
- iDubbbzTV averts as he freely admits that his style of humor is supposed to be offensive in nature and he finds himself desensitized to offensive words in general, saying them without missing a beat. He also doesn't judge the people in his Content Cop videos for using words that others would find offensive spoken outside of certain groups, unless they attempt to judge him for said words first.
- The premise of The Penguins of Madagascar: Operation N-W.O.R.D. is that the Penguins try to stop Donald Trump from saying the N-word, as that's racist. At the end, Barack Obama awards Skipper with an N-word pass for stopping racism, granting him N-word privileges despite not being black.
- Parodied by LoadingReadyRun in this CrapShot where Cam's character will let you know in uncertain terms that "racist" is "our word" and that he comes "from a long line of racists."
- Spoofed in South Park in quite a few episodes.
- 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. Biggie looks at him askance but doesn't call him on it, implicitly extending him Privileges (at least in the context of a direct quote).
- South Park spoofs 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. (In a later episode, everyone can say "fag" without being bleeped as long as they're only using it as a generic insult and not a homosexual slur.)
- "With Apologies To Jessie Jackson" proposes a theoretical double standard of this concept, that if there was a word as offensive to white people as "nigger," it'd be outlawed without question. After blurting out the word on national TV, Randy earns the derogatory nickname of "the 'nigger' guy," which offends him enough to lobby for a law to be passed that the title "'nigger' guy" be made illegal.
- "Holiday Special", which mocks ancestry tests, has a commercial for one called DNA and Me where a white man starts using the word because he found out that he's 2.1% African.
- In the "My Mom" episode of Regular Show, Mordecai can't stand Muscle Man's "my mom" jokes, so he and Rigby start doing a bunch of Your Mom jokes with Muscle Man's mom as the subject. Muscle Man stops the cart, telling them that no one makes fun of his mom, while he can make all the "my mom" jokes he pleases. He and Muscle Bro make Mordecai and Rigby kiss a picture of Muscle Man's mom, compliment it as beautiful, and then eat it, only for Muscle Man to tear it up and reveal that it was actually a picture of his butt squished up to look like a woman's face.
- The Boondocks throws around "nigga" and "nigger" like no tomorrow, the episode "Granddad's Fight" using it a whopping 54 times alone. The appropriateness of its use (such as between blacks and whites) has been lampshaded a few times:
Granddad: Well, that's different. See, it's okay between us behind closed doors. We flipped the word into a term of endearment. That's what I call my homies. You feel me? My nigga.
- In "The Garden Party", after Uncle Ruckus sings an incredibly racist song entitled "Don't Trust Them New Niggas Over There" for a bunch of rich white guests, the audience is shocked until one woman comments that she thinks it's okay for "them" (black people) to use the N-word. The audience then applauds politely.
- An entire episode called "The S-Word" parodies and deconstructs this trope. Riley and Granddad try to sue the school district, after a white teacher reflexively calls Riley "nigga". When Huey points out that they both use the word all the time, Granddad first denies doing so, then attempts to invoke N-Word Privileges and Appropriated Appellation as a justification.
- The Simpsons:
- Inverted when Homer complains about a gay character using "queer." "That's our word for making fun of you. We need it!"
- Parodied in the "The Haw-Hawed Couple" with the word bully, which only bullies are allowed to use.
- Family Guy:
- Parodied in Family Guy Presents: Laugh It Up, Fuzzball where Lois and Peter's recreation of Leia and Han's sniping from the start of The Empire Strikes Back ends with Lois calling Peter a "nerf herder"... at which point Peter punches her in the face and yells, "You can't use that word! Only we can use that word!" Shortly after that, we see Peter and Brian are playfully calling each other "my nerf herder".
- In the "April in Quahog" 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 "the you-know-what 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 saying it."
- In one episode, there's a cutaway gag referencing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, wherein Jim chastises him for saying "our word". Peter apologizes, saying he thought it was his name. He then asks, "Can you pass me that oar, N-Word Jim?" Jim politely thanks him and hands him the oar without fuss.
- 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. And in the event that anyone sought to take advice on race relations from a cartoon, a helpful caption is placed onscreen reading "Warning: Results may vary."
Lester: Only my people can use that word.
- 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!"
- In another episode, Cleveland, having been recently crowned "the whitest black person in America," responds with horror to the word "cracker" that "that word is just as offensive to them as the N-word is to us!" Token White Guy Federline corrects him that it's "not even close."
- In the "Pins, Spins and Fins! (Shark Story Cut for Time)" episode, Lester reacts this way to Cleveland calling him a "crumb bum".
- 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 her sitcom is pulled after one Asian joke.
- Gravity Falls: Within a Show Within a Show, the Duck-tective doesn't like it when a human makes bird-related puns but finds it okay for him and his fellow birds to come up with such jokes.
- "Nightwalkers" in Mary Shelley's Frankenhole is considered a derogatory slur for vampires. Only vampires are allowed to say it, and even then they pronounce it "nightwalkas."
- The trope namer is the word "nigger", an extremely offensive ethnic slur towards black people, especially African-Americans. The slur dates back to slavery, where the Spanish word "negro" (black) was corrupted by pronunciation. Some black people have attempted to redeem the slur by adopting it as a term of affection ("nigga"), though most black people (even those who use the N-word informally) still find the word "nigger" offensive when used by a non-black person. Since the word references suffering, when a black person uses it, the implication is "you have suffered, just as I have my brother/sister," but when a white person uses it, the implication is "you have suffered, and you will suffer again." A white person trying to use it affectionately would come across as a Bourgeois Bumpkin at best.
- During the 1930's, the term "Okie" was originally used derisively by Californians to refer to migrants from the Dust Bowl region and in a more general sense, people from the states of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, with 15% of the migrants coming from Oklahoma. Many of the families had little choice but to live on the outskirts of the farms as sharecroppers in shanty houses they built themselves, which were located near the irrigation ditches, with waste running off into the water which was the Okies' water supply source; many of these families couldn't afford running water or even medical care. The Okies' children and grandchildren who grew up in California turned the term "Okie" into a term of pride for achieving success. Today, some Oklahomans humorously call themselves "Okies" as a term of self-identification without prejudice, while others find the term offensive.
- In a similar manner, Indiana residents identify as "Hoosiers", New Englanders and residents of the northeastern U.S. as "Yankees", and native Floridians as "crackers", none of whom consider the term offensive when referring to themselves.
- 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.
- During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. embraced the term "Negro" as part of his racial identity in his "I Have A Dream" speech of 1963, while other civil rights activists such as Malcolm X objected to the word "negro" because they identified it with the lengthy history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African-Americans as second-class citizens or worse. Malcolm preferred "black" over "negro", but he also used the term "Afro-American" after leaving the Nation of Islam.
- The English Premier League has a curious example involving Tottenham Hotspur FC. The club are from an area of London with a traditionally high Jewish population, and some of the supporters, and at times owners, have been Jewish. This has led supporters of other teams, often those with particularly strong extreme-right-wing tendencies, to insult Spurs and their supporters as "Yids". Some Spurs supporters embrace the name, whether they are Jewish or not, and call themselves the "Yid Army". As a result, there has been ongoing debate about whether it is OK for Jewish or non-Jewish Spurs supporters to call themselves "Yids" or whether it's an anti-Semitic slur that shouldn't even be used affectionately or as a self-definition. Even David Cameron found it necessary to weigh in on the subject.
- Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN political commentator, during an interview with Trinidad Jame$, Ben Ferguson, and Don Lemon about who has n-word privileges said to Ferguson (who is white), "Maybe, just maybe, it isn't white people's position to tell black people what we can and can't say. I might see Trinidad Jame$ on the street and call him 'my nigga.' Why? Because he is my nigga. And the difference between Trinidad Jame$ and you is that Trinidad Jame$ has to deal with the same oppressive situations, he was born in a world where anti-black racism prevails, he lives in a world where police might shoot him on the street no matter how much money he has. We share a collective condition known as "nigga," white people don't. I'm not saying it should be illegal for white people to use it, I'm saying y'all shouldn't want to use it given everything that's happened after 400 years of exploitation and institutional racism."
- Less so than some of the other words in this list, but some would consider certain derogatory terms towards women to be this (e.g. bitch, slut, cunt, whore, etc.) Some women may call each other by these names (some may even do so affectionately; see Insult of Endearment) while others may feel these terms are always inappropriate, regardless of gender or intent of the speaker. Others see no problem with people of all genders/sexes using the terms, or may believe it only to be appropriate in certain circumstances. In general, at least in the United States, it's seen as less acceptable for men to use these terms, particularly in the company of women.
- Both played straight and inverted by Cajuns with respect to the term "coonass". All Cajuns consider the term to be highly derogatory when used by non-Cajuns. However, according to The Other Wiki, Cajuns differ on whether there's such a thing as C-Word Privileges. Middle- and upper-class Cajuns often reject C-Word Privileges, considering the use of the term insulting even when other Cajuns use it to describe themselves. Working-class Cajuns, on the other hand, often consider it a badge of ethnic pride and regularly call themselves by that term.
- Samuel L. Jackson used this trope to mess with a white reporter who wanted to ask him an interview question about the use of the N-word in Django Unchained. Jackson dared him to say the word out loud without resorting to the T-Word Euphemism, and when the reporter was embarrassed and couldn't bring himself to say it even at Jackson's express invitation, Jackson laughed and refused to let him ask the question about it.
"No? Nobody? None? What word do you mean? ... It wasn't a great question if you can't say the word!"
"Hey motherfucker, this is another Tuesday for us. Let's go!"
- While filming, Leonardo DiCaprio was uncomfortable repeatedly saying the N-word, until Jackson took him aside:
- Within the Autistic and wider Neurodivergent communities, it's generally accepted that a member using the term "retard" is somewhat more acceptable, within concept, than Neurotypicals doing this same.
- In the 1990s Queer Nation and other queer activists began a concerted effort to "reclaim" the word "queer" and de-stigmatize it as an insult. This led to a sharp division within the LGBT community, with older gay men who were subjected to the term for decades objecting especially strenuously. While the word has achieved some mainstream acceptability (e.g. Queer Eye) and is sometimes used as shorthand (although "LGBT" and increasingly "LGBTQ" with the "Q" meaning either "queer" or "questioning" are more common) it remains somewhat controversial within the community and still largely unacceptable for straight people to use.
- Jar-Jar Binks is one of the most infamous examples of The Scrappy, in large part because he is perceived the be an alien counterpart to stereotypes about Jamaicans. However quite a lot that hate was tampered when Jar-Jar's Mo-cap and voice actor, Ahmed Best, revealed he played a large role in developing Jar-Jar's character and based it off an impression he used to do.
- Some immigrants to Israel from Russia may call their new home country "Israilovka village" (rus: деревня Израиловка) note but don't like when people in Russia use this term.