I recently had a story rejected for an anthology because it used the N word. Yesterday, I revisited Blazing Saddles which uses the N word ten times in the first ten minutes. That's about the pace my story used it.
This word is problematic. It's a word. And it's a word used a lot back in the days of old. A hell of a lot. But, using it today is not looked kindly upon. There have been many efforts to get libraries to ban Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain because the word is in there. Twain was no racist. He used the word because that's how folks talked in the time period.
My story--same deal. It has characters on a Pullman car and most of them were black. A white customer was using the term liberally and the editor of my story wanted nothing to do with the concept. I can't really blame him. It would likely stir up more trouble than it was worth. Still, I hate being historically accurate and shit-canned [oh my that's another word] for it. Although I understand it, I don't entirely like it. Since I edit as well as write, I can't say for certain what I'd do with a N word laced story. Sigh. And I never used the word here.