from their parents, but some have voluntarily adopted the faith themselves. This fact indicates that one can join a minority; it is not necessary to be born into one.
The Jews constitute a fairly unique minority in that there is no adequate single basis for categorizing them. They have about as diverse racial, nationality, and language characteristics and backgrounds as possible. Many--perhaps more than half--do not today adhere to the Jewish faith. The most satisfactory way of describing them is to say that, for all of them, their recent forebears are known to have believed in the Jewish religion. As we mentioned before, many ignorant or malicious persons. think of Jews as a race, but this mistake is also made--though perhaps to a lesser extent-- about other religious or nationality minorities.
In the preceding pages we have attempted to define a minority group and to indicate what minority groups there are in the United States. In our first group of readings, we shall have a further description of several of the specific minorities, including all of the larger ones. The minorities selected for description here illustrate all the bases on which minorities are distinguished in the United States. Although many facts are presented about the characteristics of each minority as a group, the main emphasis is on the history of their relations to the dominant group in the United States and on the nature of the problems arising out of those relations. Our interest, then, is not so much in the groups themselves as in intergroup relations, and in the discrimination and prejudice that make certain people into minorities.
Adolf A. Berle, Jr.
[ Until recently, Americans could regard their minority problems as domestic. Even the political problems connected with the Civil War, which rose largely out of the enslavement of Negroes, could be regarded as internal, along with the problem of the slums, created by immigrant living, the danger of violence arising out of racist mores,