Tar baby is a synonym for nigger, except that it is only used in bigoted manners, whereas nigger can be a sign of respect, if the speaker is also African American.
It comes from a children's story in which the dark skin and seeming ignorance (caused by a lack of schooling) of slaves were explained by the idea that black children were baptised in tar, which made them dark and dumb.
Biff: Let's beat the sh*t out of that tar baby.
Tad: Shall we?
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