How did and does Chinatown, San Fransisco contribute to the idea of America's "melting pot"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that this concept might need a bit more in way of delving and analysis.  I would primarily suggest that Chinatown is not really the example of a "melting pot."  If the "melting pot" vision is taken to its logical extreme, everyone and everything blends in its own notion of difference into something where there is homogeneity.  I am not entirely certain that Chinatown could be described as homogeneous.  Upon entering Chinatown, one recognizes the reality and strength of cultural diversity, directly challenging the "melting pot" idea.  Consider the following description:

Chinatown is an active enclave that continues to retain its own customs, languages, places of worship, social clubs, and identity.

Such a description is about as different from the "melting pot" vision as possible.  The idea that Chinatown and its inhabitants retain their own modes of being in the world are fundamentally antithetical to the notion of the "melting pot."  I would also suggest that the idea of a "city within a city" is not entirely consistent with the "melting pot" idea of complete submission of individual identity to something larger.