In an interview with Marc Maron, president Obama used the n-word quite casually while making the pretty obvious point that its use or non-use should not be the measure of the state of racism in the US. Of course, his use of the word gave many people the vapors. As a result, the rest of the hour-long interview has been pretty much ignored but you can get a synopsis here.
Larry Wilmore explains what the fuss is all about and provides the appropriate context.
I simply don’t understand why some people feel offended that black people can use the n-word without too much pushback while others cannot. I don’t feel oppressed by that fact. In fact, I have never had the desire to use the word at all and if it becomes necessary to discuss it, there are ways to do so without using it. While in general the use of euphemisms seems ridiculous when everyone knows what the actual word is, there are times when it is appropriate. The reason for using an euphemism is not because the actual word will cause offense but in order to dissociate oneself from the harmful associations that the word connotes. Over four years ago, I explained more fully my reasons for sometimes using euphemisms.
I recall that there was a time when some people moaned about how that perfectly nice word ‘gay’ had been co-opted by the LGBT community and now they could not use it to mean ‘happy’. Is that really such a hardship? There are plenty of synonyms for happy that you can find in any thesaurus (this page lists 48) so why the fuss?