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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Letter to the Editor: Letter to Stony Brook After the Arrest

Dr. Abena Ampofoa Asare is an Associate Professor of Modern African Affairs & History. She was one of the faculty members arrested during the protests on May 1, 2024. 


When I was arrested

there was a cello playing

in a theater not of our making.

Facing police, encircled by dozens of people, chanting and stomping  

dressed in shine, she set a stool on Staller steps and began

inserting her song into the electric in-between of a standoff

playing out everywhere

the cello groaned, the ecstasy of birth and death, a low, piercing dirge.  

“Am I in a movie right now?” N— wonders.

We are in a university.

Who carries a cello to a protest? Why play in the space between the police bullhorn and the crowd chants? Some assertions and refusals only occur on a campus, a place where our task is to burrow steadily toward the unknown, the unseen, the impossible. We have two tools for this 1. expertise, the countless hours of focus put in to achieve precision, flow, insight 2. each other, the constant explosions at the corner of you and me. Certain collisions can only happen here, when we reach beyond ourselves into the strangeness and beauty of the other, that is, the world. Later I read that the cellist’s song was Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem. She played itnot necessarily in support of the protests, and not necessarily against.”  This is called learning in community.



When the state trooper grabbed me

I was singing in his ear.

It was a song E— had given to me

just moments before as I settled on the steps of Staller

I locked eyes with him as he yanked my arm,


“Your people are my people/ Your people are my people/ Palestine/

he twists it.

Your divine my divine/ Palestine/ You’re divine my divine/ Palestine/

My sister Amma said keep it liquid so I flowed through his force, unhurt, singing as sweetly as I could into his face, crooning to see the baby boy before the brutal cop who maybe liked lullabies, who perhaps could hear his mother’s voice from my cracked throat.

He barked at me

to open my already open singing mouth

to search for weapons.



When Officer Fadden unlocked my handcuffs

after seven and a half hours

he said I was suspended,

and should not return to campus.

I did not tell him that I never signed a contract with him or with any other police department;

that I do not work for him.

Let me go, my class is waiting for me.  

The students who are the teachers  

have eyes to see another world waiting for us all

far beyond the catastrophe of children ground to bits like grain by unholy weapons and unknowing publics

They are my employer; my contract is with them.

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  • M

    Marie Nadine PierreMay 21, 2024 at 1:46 pm

    Jah & Jahes love. I’m proud of my U.S. Ghanaian sister for standing up to protest against genocide. I need you to protest against U.S. imperialism in Africa and the Caribbean, especially Ayiti.
    Thank you for writing this beautiful letter to the editor, it reads like a poem.
    Your students and colleagues are blessed to have you.
    Stay strong.

  • E

    ErinMay 9, 2024 at 11:20 am

    I really respect Dr. Asare and value her commitment to all of our students. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words.

  • P

    Pradesh RajahMay 7, 2024 at 9:40 am

    Let’s see what Admin thinks of your “contract.” Try using this word salad gibberish on them and see how far you get.

    Keep playing the victim card, Maya Angeloser. 🤣

  • M

    MMay 6, 2024 at 9:27 pm

    Thank you , Thank you .

  • M

    Mary McCabeMay 6, 2024 at 8:57 pm

    Your words are beautiful. Keep singing we hear you. We are part of the same contract