The origins of the P-word, as its known in polite society, are far more recent than its black equivalent, which dates back to the 16th Century.
Its first recorded use was in 1964, when hostility in Britain to immigration from its former colonies in the Asian sub-continent, was beginning to find a voice.
Despite being an abbreviation for "Pakistani", its proponents tended to be less discriminating about its application - directing it against anyone with brown skin, be they Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi. Sometimes even non-Asians who happened to have a dark complexion found themselves on the receiving end.
Forty years on, use of the word is still highly sensitive and has the potential to cause great offence. Earlier this year, it was alluded to in unbroadcast material from the Celebrity Big Brother house, when Indian housemate Shilpa Shetty became the target of racist abuse.
The whole issue of words being used by one group in an offensive way and by another group as a term of solidarity seems to be too much for some people's minds to cope with, and two responses to this article suggest that it's causing brain meltdown and hurrumphs about "political correctness gone too far" in sections of white society (Again, is there such a thing as white "society", or even a "white community"?):
I understand the sentiment, but surely it's mad to have a word thats "OK" for some groups to use, and highly offensive for everyone else? Either a word is offensive to some people, or it isn't.
Andrew, Glasgow, Scotland
It is racial discrimination for one race of people to be able to do something when others cannot. Either the terms are racist and should be condemned whenever used or everyone should be able to use them without fear of reproach. The current situation of supposed political correctness is illogical.
Alex, Colchester, England
ENA1 - Language & Representation
ENA5 - Language Change