A Frugal, Diverse and Profound Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon's residents. They are "Mocanas" (A city of the Dominican Republic)

By Miriam Ventura

No body knows what happens in the depths of Mount Vernon until one walks its streets and alleys in darkness and learns to first accept the damaged sidewalks and then understand the faces of fellow pedestrians. At such moments, one recognizes that one is there: Mount Vernon, New York. (One must specify, for there are several “Mount Vernons” throughout the United States; but it is most likely true that New York’s is the very first, named by Anne Hutchinson in the early mid-17th century.)
The darkness helps one to be aware: never fall again, never trip into its potholes. Sometimes even the police officers agree on this epistemic darkness, so they give suggestions: “Call the DPW [Department of Public Works], because these sidewalks do not make anyone’s jobs or lives easier.”
That evening I kept in mind the officer’s beautiful Portuguese accent, which, in my memory, brings to my mind the singer Ellis Regina of my adolescence. Of course! Mount Vernon has a large Brazilian/Portuguese and Latino community. Obrigado! Gracias!
20% of MVPD is Latino, 
there are approximately 4 to 8 Dominican 
officers. A percentage that is higher 
than the national average 

Beyond this darkness of the streets, for which politicians are responsible, the inhabitants of Mount Vernon have clarity regarding where they are and where the others are: In other words, the Latino population….
How the communities live, interact, and protect each other: this diversity provokes an urban feeling that one can smell in the most distinct restaurants of varied ethnic backgrounds -- much more so than in popular chain restaurants.
This explains why, within Golden Krust, people from Mexico, Cuba and Dominican Republic line up to buy a portion of Jamaican-accented goat. Next door at Alfredo's Pizzeria, a Latino family and two African-American families savor a popular dish invented in Naples, based on flattened dough.
Each culture has its distinguishing characteristics. Sometimes its music, its literature, its dance and its cuisine set it apart. Food is the flag for each restaurant. Different food is for different nationalities. This is the most important cultural exchange the Latino population gives as gifts to residents and visitors of Mount Vernon.
The manager at the Farmer's Market, in my surprise visit, showed me six or seven gondolas displaying food and products from Jamaica, West India, Dominican Republic, Taiwan, Haiti, USA, and Mexico.
New supermarkets, such as La Placita and Foodtown, add to the new smells filling the avenues and streets of Mount Vernon.
Nobody knows what happens in the deep and profound Mount Vernon, even though its population and the city has been villainized, but the only villainy here is the division created between Mount Vernon East and West during 1960s, to the rhythm of railroads. Metro-North. One station for Whites, the other(s?) for Blacks and immigrants.
The data from the United States Census registered an increase of 10.48% of Latinos; Mount Vernon has 68,381 inhabitants (59.58 % African-American and 28.63 % White).
The city of Mount Vernon, New York was incorporated in 1892. The Black and/or Latino population is of Caribbean origin; 34% of its residents are foreign-born.
The Mount Vernon I know is conscious, its people having lived through the epoch of slavery -- later than other cities. Mount Vernon, NY, was registered before 1892 -- in 1853 – and people lived for 12 years in discrimination and slavery before Abraham Lincoln ended the horror.
It does not matter if Mount Vernon has a high crime level or not. Tolerance of diversity is the key to why Mount Vernon and her residents have harmony and concrete ethnic diversity, which are qualities other Westchester County towns lack.
Concrete inclusion is evident in the Mount Vernon Police Department, a precinct of Westchester County with the most representation of Latino officers.
I know what happens in the profound Mount Vernon. I walk down Gramatan Avenue and recognize women and men from the Caribbean (Latin, Antilles, francophone).
They work in barbershops, beauty parlors, medical or dental offices, and courts. They serve as public officials, first responders, teachers, school bus drivers, supermarket cashiers, department store makeup stylists, fish mongers, or medical professionals at the Mount Vernon Hospital (now “Montefiore Hospital”).
It is easy to engage in conversation with a beautiful lady about how to cook goat or fricassee, particularly when she says: “Are you ready? I'll give you the Jamaican recipe and you'll remember me and this moment for rest of your life.” I believed her, and I still remember her when the seagulls, the birds of Nina Simone, fly high...over the sky of Mount Vernon…you know how I feel...I'm feeling good…