By Gloria Zuurveen, Editor-in-Chief
It was enlightening to read and to soak up the critical analysis of Black America today in a book by Colonel Vaughan Witten, Ph.D.
Colonel Witten has a distinguished list of credentials that we will get to later but for now, Colonel Witten says that if the Black community doesn’t get its act together it will certainly be “HISTORY” and no longer “OURSTORY” because from reading his books, if the Black community doesn’t take and use the power it possesses it will be forever a once upon a time reality and not a fairy tale.
As I ponder the content in the awe-inspiring and motivating thesis, Colonel Witten is crying and he is exposing through an urgent clarion call from the bottom of his heart. It appears that in this book, the Colonel’s soul desire is that Black America will heed the message and act with all deliberate speed to stop the onslaught of death due to generation of learned helplessness that he describes as the poison pill threat to Black America.
This book is a game changer if it is received to achieve the solution to the current dire and despicable conditions that’s eating away at the fabric of a people, Black people, and their history of perseverance through hard times.
This thought-provoking, I believe, Holy Ghost driven, life-saving, and soul-redeeming method revealed and ready to be practiced and processed daily with the words of ones mouth and the meditations of their hearts, this book by Colonel Witten is one that has pricked my conscious which has been seared with this world of learned helplessness and the shocking part of it all is that its self-inflicted as a poison pill which is threatening to Black America— and like the followers of Jim Jones, the pill is passed on, by Blacks themselves following this One World Order of things leading into a progressive slope of annihilation and its called out by the Colonel and it’s not a new revelation but ones that’s old, tried and true called hard work, discipline, and several other remedies that our forefathers knew. In this book Colonel Witten, the man, has laid out a plan to build up Black America and to lift it up to its rightful status as a people of substance and it takes more than a glance to call on Blacks to take a chance. According to Colonel Witten in one of his other books called “Black Escape From Freedom” The Fallacy of Victimism, resulting Self Defeating Behavior and Avoidance of Responsibility.” In this book, Colonel sums it up in all of 70 pages of documented facts about Black America and their willful intent on escaping from freedom after all their ancestors have gone through to garner that freedom they possess in the first place.
The Colonel’s message is right on time, yes, it is on time to expose his depth of learning since 1989 when he obtained his Ph.D. in Psychology after 8 years of study from North Carolina State University and proposed in his dissertation and successfully proved 11 of his 12 hypothesis at the 95 percent level or higher at this defense hearing and the 12th one only by one percent. His hypothesis was to illustrate Witten’s 1971 theory of Field Independence as the basis for his hypothesis that his research in this area found that among the multiple variable—race is a significant indicator as a predictor of dependency with Blacks in general being significantly more dependent or non-autonomous in restructuring skills than whites (Witten, C.(1989)).
Further Witten describes the Field Dependent person as experiencing his surroundings in a relatively “global” manner, passively conforming to the influence of the prevailing field while the Field Independent person, on the other hand, experience the environment “analytically” with objects separate from their background.
“In this regard” Witten says, the Field Dependent person only sees the “forest,” whereas the Field Independent person sees the “trees” as well as the forest. He adds that these individual differences in cognitive styles are very congruent in his basic thesis that the Black race in America in most social situations as seeing in most cases, only the “forest” so to speak, that they tend to interpret or “see” or relate to the more superficial, ambiguous and global results of events without knowledge of the relevant, important, facts and chronology of how, and why such event occurred. He said their response tends to have a strong emotional component with feelings of pain, condemnation and disappointment when encountering failure or aversive situations without objective analysis or understanding of the reality or cause of the event or situation.
Witten says, “We “Blacks” tends to dial up denial, excuses emotion and rationalization in response to our wrongdoing or crime by the malefactors that we love.”
“We raise our young without teaching them manners, self-discipline, respect for authority or hardly any customs or conventions of what’s necessary for a civilized society to exist.” He added, “Our young men are cannon fodder for the prison-criminal industrial complex. Then when they end up on drugs, prison or the graveyard—we blame the White man, the Boogeyman, the anybody but ourselves. We are the instrument of our own destruction, yet we cannot see the “trees” (US) for our delusional thinking and behavior.
Colonel Witten’s book “Learned Helplessness: The Poison Pill Threat to Black America is a must read as it delves into the self-destructive behavior of the American Black male, his delusional belief of victimization by a white society as the primary reason for his failure to acclimate and succeed in today’s capitalistic America. This engrained worldview thereby sufficiently blinds him and the general Black culture to the concept that discipline, sacrifice, and industry are their only escape from their dilemma instead of their rearview blame, pity, and destructive behavior. This helplessness, learned and absorbed in their psyche, negates any macro attempt to thrive as an independent, self-sufficient, and competitive subculture in America.
Colonel Witten, this Ph.D, ought to know about work ethic, discipline, order and responsible behavior as a Black man who was born on February 18, 1935 in Anawalt, West Virginia in a small coal mining village of about 2000 people, McDowell County. He was born of wonderful parents, mother Arlene Walker Witten of Martinsville, VA., his father a coal miner and Baptist Minister Alphonso Witten of Anawalt, WV. Dr. Witten has five siblings Audrey (deceased), Sandra, Janita, James and Emma. Colonel Witten along with his siblings were educated in a small one room schoolhouse with one teacher who taught six different grades in different corners of a small space. After grade school, he graduated from Washington High School in London, WV at the age of 15. He joined the Air Force at age 17 and served 27 years, including three tours in Vietnam and duty in Thailand, Japan, Greenland, Iceland, Greece, Portugal, The Azores and the Philippines. He earned the Bronze Star and achieved the highest enlisted rank of Command Chief Master Sergeant. As mentioned earlier, Colonel Witten acquired a PhD in Psychology from North Carolina State in 1989 but that’s not all he also has a degree from Shaw University.
After retiring from the Air Force, he taught psychology and sociology as a professor at Park College, Webster University and Shaw University for 34 years. Now fully retired, he spends his time learning foreign languages, welding, wood building, forklift driving, art and much more. To remain active, he also enjoys mountain bike riding and frequents numerous parks and the hills of North Carolina and West Virginia. Dr. Witten, having absorbed the blows of the death of both parents and the recent death of his beloved wife Mildred after 50 years of marriage, provides through his episodic journey the thrill, wonder, joy, pain and appreciation of his life in Appalachia –a virtual paradise on earth provided by God, family and America– and finally the despair of a virtual Purgatory in a declining, immoral, decadent culture that he perceives devolving before his eyes in America.
This coalminer’s son has something to say about Learned Helplessness: The Poison Pill Threat to Black America first because he is Black and has witnessed first hand over the course of his lifetime the detrimental affect of the poison pill of learned helplessness. He has something to say about the poison pill because of his own experience as a retired Air Fore Command Chief Master Sergeant and an author of his autobiography of his world travel and social experience, which is currently viewed and read in 134 countries. Anchored with the Ph.D. in Psychology for the N.C. State University, he is seeking to educate and share with his Black race as well as the general American population his hypothesis that a sea change in work ethic, discipline, order, and responsible behavior is necessary for Black success in America.