Letter: White trade unionists will have to give up privileges

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The Independent Online
I READ with disappointment your article 'Bridlington: could blacks and gays cope?' (11 July). The National Association of Probation Officers (Napo), as other organisations, is struggling to ensure that its structures and resources are genuinely open to its black members.

This is often painful and difficult for the predominantly white membership, as has been highlighted in the Bridlington issue, and it may mean asking some difficult questions and giving up privileges we have long taken for granted.

Nick Cohen's article reduced this genuine internal struggle to a set of simplistic jibes. By doing so he missed the point that Napo's undeniably messy internal arguments are the result of an honourable attempt to change overwhelmingly traditional white structures. A genuine attempt to understand and debate the issues in a thought-provoking article would have been more in keeping with the intelligent approach your paper wishes to convey.

Napo campaigns on many fronts, both as a trade union and as a professional association, but also has the honesty to acknowledge its own racism. It is the worst kind of smugness to pillory us for doing so.

Sian Griffiths

Trent Branch, Napo

Ilkeston, Derbyshire

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