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Yasser Payne - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Yasser Payne

Professor, Sociology and Criminal Justice; Africana Studies | University of Delaware


Prof. Payne's research examines gun violence; policing and reentry; and educational inequality in street-identified populations.



Yasser Payne Publication




Challenging Assumptions about Well-Being in Black Communities - with Dr. Yasser Payne Yasser Payne on Research and Activism with Street-Identified Populations 2021 Kandler Awards: All About Dr. Yasser Payne




Yasser Arafat Payne is a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware. Dr. Payne’s street ethnographic research program examines policing and reentry; economic well-being and educational inequality; and gun violence with street-identified Black Americans by utilizing Street Participatory Action Research (Street PAR)—the process of doing research and activism with street-identified populations. Dr. Payne’s work has appeared in Sociological Forum, Journal of Social Issues, Sociology Compass, and Race & Justice. Furthermore, Dr. Payne and his colleagues have also authored the book project titled "Murder Town USA: Homicide, Structural Violence and Activism in Wilmington" (Rutgers University Press).

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (8)

Gun Violence

Street Ethnography

School Violence and School-To-Prison Pipeline

Experiences With Police

Ethnographic Field Research‎‎

Prison Reentry

Gangster Rap Music and Culture

Street Participatory Action Research (Street PAR)

Media Appearances (5)

What a rise in Wilmington shootings of women says about city violence

The News Journal  online


[no abstract available]

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Southbridge residents call for equal investment in $100M Riverfront East plan

The News Journal  online


[no abstract available]

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Local NAACP leaders' news briefings with police prompt criticism

NBC News  online


“Those press conferences represent more of the interest of the police, or city or state officials, than it does the people most aggrieved by police abuse,” said Yasser Payne, associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at the University of Delaware. “What we’ve seen is more assimilated, a compromise, that has lost any real integrity.”

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Looking For Solutions Amid The Pandemic Homicide Spike

WUGA  online


But Yasser Payne says more policing is the last thing we need. Payne is an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Delaware. After thousands of conversations with mostly young Black men, he calls himself a street ethnographer. He says it’s really easy to look at violence as culturally deviant. “And what we're saying is that, no, crime makes sense,” Payne said.

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Enlighten Me: UD professor's gun violence research expands

Delaware Public Media  online


In this week’s Enlighten Me, Delaware Public Media’s Sophia Schmidt talks with one of the researchers leading that study, University of Delaware professor Dr. YasserPayne.

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Articles (5)

“Teachers think the kids around here, don't really want to learn”: Street‐identified black men and women's attitudes toward teachers and schooling

Sociology Compass

2022 This street participatory action research project explored the reflective schooling experiences of street identified Black men and women (ages 18–35) in two small low‐income neighborhoods. Secondary analysis of survey (N = 520) and interview (N = 46) data examined: (1) How are attitudes toward schooling and teachers affected by race, gender and age?; and (2) How do students utilize a street‐identity as a site of resilience inside schools? Overall, street‐identified study participants held positive attitudes toward schooling, but generally performed poorly in schools and had negative experiences with educators. No significance was found as a function of gender and age regarding attitudes toward schooling and attitudes toward teachers.

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“I Don’t let These Felonies Hold me Back!”: How Street-Identified Black Men and Women Use Resilience to Radically Reframe Reentry

Race and Justice

2021 This street participatory action research project trained 15 local residents to document a community sample of street-identified Black men and women’s (ages 18–35 years) experiences with reentry in two low-income Black neighborhoods. The following multi-method data were collected: (a) 520 surveys; (b) 24 individual interviews; (c) four dual interviews; and (d) three group interviews. Descriptive and univariate analysis of variance analysis revealed most participants as a function of gender and age-groups held positive attitudes toward reentry, overall; positive attitudes toward returning citizens; negative attitudes toward reentry programs; and negative attitudes toward the reentry process.

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Predicting trust in police: the impact of instrumental and expressive concerns in street-identified Black-American men and women

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management

2020 Purpose While the past few decades have witnessed a substantial number of studies on public attitudes toward the police, a relatively thin line of inquiry has focused exclusively on low income urban Black-Americans, and especially street-identified Black populations. The purpose of this paper, however, is to examine trust in police amongst street-identified Black men and women. Design/methodology/approach Relying on a street participatory action research methodological approach, the authors collected survey data ( N = 520) from two low-income unban Black neighborhoods, to examine the effects of an instrumental model versus an expressive model on procedural- and outcome-based trust in police.

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Street Participatory Action Research in Prison: A Methodology to Challenge Privilege and Power in Correctional Facilities

The Prisoner Journal

2018 This article presents a prison research model grounded in street participatory action research (Street PAR) methodology but programmatically facilitated in an Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program class. Street PAR’s nine tenets were adapted to a prison setting, and we demonstrate its promise with a brief case study of research projects at one prison location. This article also explores the challenges scholars and incarcerated persons as researchers may face in correctional facilities. Street PAR and Inside-Out can improve prison environments and successful transition to local communities as a function of equipping incarcerated persons with reading, writing, and analytic skill sets.

“Why I Can't Stand Out in Front of My House?”: Street‐Identified Black Youth and Young Adult's Negative Encounters With Police

Sociological Forum

2017 This street participatory action research (Street PAR) study organized 15 residents to document street-identified Black youth and adult's negative experiences with police in Wilmington, Delaware. Data were collected on mostly street-identified Black men and women aged 18–35 in the forms of (1) 520 surveys, (2) 24 individual interviews, (3) four dual interviews, (4) three group interviews, and (5) extensive field observations. Forty-two percent of survey participants reported being stopped by police in the last year. However, with the exception of being “stopped,” participants overall reported little negative contact with police at least within the past year. Chi-square and ANOVA analyses suggest an interactional relationship exists between race, gender, and age on experiences with police.

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Research Grants (5)

“Got The Hammer On Me": The Socio-Cultural Roots Of Gun Use In U.S. Cities”

National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research Award $1.67 million

2019 - 2023

“Finite Mixture Modeling of Community Violence Exposures and Health Related Quality of Life in Black American Adults”

Delaware Center for Translational Research/Christiana Care Hospital $100,000

2019 - Present

“The Wilmington Street PAR Health Project: Health, Opportunity & Violence

National Institute Health/Christiana Care Hospital Department of Medicine $100,000

2017 - Present

"Safe Communities" Employment and Training Project

First State Community Action Agency/American Recovery and Reinvestment Act $200,000

2009 - 2010

"Safe Communities" Employment and Training Project

United Way of Delaware & JP Chase Morgan (DE) $35,000

2009 - 2010

Accomplishments (5)

ACLU-DE Annual Celebration Kandler Awardee (professional)


NPR Source of The Week (professional)


Governor Jack A. Markell’s Tribute & Recognition Award (professional)


40 Under 40 Award (professional)


William A. Vrooman Social Justice Exemplar Award, Delaware Center for Justice (professional)


Education (3)

The Graduate Center, City University of New York: PhD, Social-Perosonality Psychology 2005

Seton Hall University: MS, Psychological Studies 1999

Wagner College: BS, Psychology 1997

Languages (1)

  • English

Event Appearances (5)

What We Know About Community Based Participatory Research in Prisons: Methods, Ethics, & Outcomes.

(2019) Urban Institute. #TransformPrison: A Roundtable on Prison Research and Innovation  Washington, DC

Urban Institute. #TransformPrison: A Roundtable on Prison Research and Innovation

(2019) University of Maryland-Baltimore: School of Social Work  Baltimore, MD

Street Participatory Action Research: Doing Research & Activism with Street-Identified Black Men and Women

(2018) Center for Study of Diversity Colloquium  Newark, DE

Street Participatory Action Research: Doing Research & Activism with Street-Identified Black Men and Women

(2018) Vera Institute of Justice: Social Justice Speaking Series  New York, NY

Street Participatory Action Research: Doing Research and Activism with The Streets of Black America

(2018) Racial Democracy Crime and Justice Network 16th Annual Workshop  Newark, NJ