The absence of inclusion and protection in Dickson, Tennessee: An environmental racism case study, 2020

Atlanta University and Clark Atlanta University Theses and Dissertations
The absence of inclusion and protection in Dickson, Tennessee: An environmental racism case study, 2020
Scaife-Johnson, Laila
Contributor to Resource:
Boone, William
Date of Original:
Degrees, Academic
Dissertations, Academic
United States, Georgia, Fulton County, Atlanta, 33.749, -84.38798
This study examines the relationship between environmental racism and the decision-making process to gain a better understanding of the impacts on communities of color to be applied nationally and globally. This study was based on the premise that there are unique and dynamic conditions and relationships experienced among African Americans, in an effort to reveal how these relationships influence environmental policy outcomes. The population under investigation is the African-American community in Dickson, Tennessee, which is considered “the poster child of environmental racism.” The community was informed by federal, state and local officials that their well water was safe to drink and was encouraged to do so for more than ten years, even though, water quality tests revealed that their water contained excessive levels of Trichloroethylene (TCE), a known carcinogen, originating from the county landfill. The case in Dickson, Tennessee is representative of broader trends in environmental justice and best exhibits themes encompassed by the field of EJ, such as racism manifested in political processes. The researcher applied a theory triangulation approach utilizing several theoretical frameworks to adequately conceptualize the impacts of environmental racism on African-American communities. As a result, this research provides a new framework for understanding environmental justice and establishes a new paradigm for political scientists and policymakers that are more inclusive of culture within the conceptual and theoretical frameworks used to address environmental racism and the impacts on marginalized populations. A qualitative case study analysis approach was used. Data gathered from multiple sources utilizing a triangulation approach was analyzed and a thematic analysis was conducted with the development of codes and a coding schema using IBM SPSS Text Analytics software. Emergent themes were identified; interpretations and conclusions from the themes resulted from the data and were reported in the research findings. The researcher found that lawmakers ignored the concerns of the African- American community and policies gave priority to economic gains and failed to protect the health and wellness of the community. The research study reveals interventions useful to ensuring that vulnerable communities are not disproportionately targeted as dump sites, nationally and internationally. The conclusions drawn from the findings suggest that responsibility for what occurred in Dickson, Tennessee is shared and the ethical dilemmas associated with delayed intervention are a human security concern negatively affecting the overall quality of life for the entire community.
Date of award: 2020-05
Degree type: dissertation
Degree name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Granting institution: Clark Atlanta University
Department: Department of Political Science
Advisor: Boone, William
Metadata URL:
Holding Institution:
Clark Atlanta University