Leader Morris, Jada
…I guess a good place for me to start would be when I first saw you on the news. The station hid your identity, your face tiny brown, black, and gray boxes. Your voice staccato, like an old robot. You were already talking when we tuned in. I lost count of how many times I re-watched it, but I memorized every word of your interview. “I didn’t know they were stealing from these young girls. I would’ve never signed up if I had known. They told us these uteruses were donated from women who didn’t want children, women who wanted to help families, be part of history.”
We were at our HQ in Brooklyn. It was this place that did self-defense classes and anti-violence workshops for girls, women, and anyone from the LGBTQI community. Crystal worked as the office assistant during the day, and she’d gotten them to give us the space for free after hours. There were 12 of us there. Damn, I really miss my SUs. Some call or visit me, but a lot of them are still angry with me. We’d been having an emergency strategy meeting because two days before, a Black woman stabbed a random white woman on the sidewalk in Queens. She yelled, “This is for the SUs” and then boom, knifed the woman in the pelvis. The woman was going to make a full recovery, but we needed to get on top of the news. Officially, we didn’t condone acts of violence. Secretly, some of us wished we could carry out a little vigilante justice of our own. People already called us a gang, but we called ourselves a movement. Someone on social came up with the moniker SU, and we went with it. It stood for stolen uterus and we thought Sue sounded safe and all-American for a group of brown girls out for justice…and maybe a little blood.
So, back in the dojo, we were deep in brainstorming mode. Sitting on the scuffed hardwood floors, shoes off. Crossed legs, scribbling notes, pecking away at our devices. Zhene and I were with our team working on talking points. We wanted to reiterate specific parts of our manifesto. You know, Black and brown women, people have authority over our bodies and have the right to be pregnant and birth children; we demand the return of our uteruses; we demand retribution for POCx subjected to medical experiments and forced sterilization. Zhene said we should share stats from our pilot escort program. You probably heard about it. We had SU and SU allies go with pregnant POCx to their doctor’s appointments, work, even their births as an extra layer of protection.
On the other side of the dojo, my friend Mia led a team working to get people with similar experiences to join forces with us. The group from Texas whose clinic gynecologist gave them abortion pills without their consent. The women from a homeless shelter in Chicago who were given warm beds and medical care for a year after they unknowingly agreed to have their tubes tied. They were all POCx like us, why didn’t this shit happen to white women? I knew the world was fucked up, but I guess I never knew how fucked up it could be until after becoming a SU.
Our devices started vibrating and dinging. We got the same message from Shelisa, “Turn to NewsToday live stream now! Woman says she has a uterus from a SU.” She couldn’t get out of work for the meeting. She’d been bartending at a sports bar when a video teaser played.
We watched your interview, and we watched each other react to your interview. We held our breaths as your voice echoed through the room on a slight delay. The interviewer asked if you knew any of the other women who received a stolen uterus, and you said I know some of them, yes. But I thought it was because we had money, we waited to have kids, built careers, met our husbands late, and now we were—
Do you remember what happened next? It’s a sound I can’t forget. It’s the one thing about this I can’t block out. I have recurring nightmares with a tinny robotic cry haunting me. In some of the nightmares, the cry comes from my little sister Ameera’s doll, the kind that cries until you check its diaper, rock it, or stick a bottle of fake milk in its mouth. But the cry during the interview wasn’t a doll. The station only pixelated your face and shoulders, so we watched as hands passed you a baby with a head of tan and brown boxes.
We moved closer to our screens. We leaned into each other, held onto one another. I swore I heard our breaths and our heartbeats. Mia whispered, “Why the fuck did they disguise the baby’s voice?”
The interviewer asked you to introduce the viewers to your baby. This is BLEEP. She was born six months ago. She’s my little miracle. I wish I could thank the young woman who helped make this possible and tell her I’m sorry, tell her I didn’t know, help her somehow. I thought I was helping, that I was part of something good, a trade with women who wanted to be childfree who were helping those of us who had tried and failed at all the options to have biological children.
Fuck, it was like we found out someone died. I get that you probably did the interview to explain another side of the story. But your coming forward didn’t make us feel better about what happened to us. We held our breaths so long waiting for justice that when we came up for air, it was cries and screams. You had a baby, and we were probably never going to get the chance to have babies of our own because you and the Eugenia moms and some racist assholes stole our uteruses. I wish you could’ve been at the dojo that night. We were crying snot tears and cursing, but one thing that sticks out for me was how Tara reacted. She was our stoic. When she saw your baby on the screen, she wailed. We tried to comfort her, but she pushed us away and walked back and forth in her socks, shaking her fists and punching the air. Through her sobs, she said, “We gotta find that bitch. We have to find all them bitches. This ain’t right.”
Her reaction might seem harsh to you. Maybe you think our anger was misplaced. But, nah, we had a right to be angry. We’d had almost a year of silence on the case from the FBI, and then we found out through the news that while we’ve been organizing, you’d been growing a baby inside one of our uteruses. We hadn’t heard anything from the FBI since those two nurses were caught, but the people at the top, the masterminds of Eugenia? Nowhere to be found. Where the hell were they? Why couldn’t the FBI find them? You were all we had. And your baby meant the possibility of more babies. By then, everyone knew the goal of Eugenia was to pump out more white babies and prevent Black and brown babies from being conceived. Some bullshit about stopping the browning of America. But until that day, we didn’t know there were babies.
I tried to play it level-headed. I told the SUs, yeah, the news was shocking, but if we could find you ourselves, maybe you’d lead us to the rest of the women with our uteruses. Maybe even lead us to the people behind Eugenia. I said we had to find you together, no going rogue. Back in my apartment later, I kept replaying your interview. After the tenth time watching, a thought popped into my head: What if you were the person with my uterus? By the twentieth time, I was convinced. I texted Zhene and told her to find you. She studied IT crimes and could pretty much hack anything. I told her to tell me first if she found something because I didn’t want a SU going the way of vigilante justice before we got answers.
It’s funny in a bad way now. But I also promised myself if we found you, I’d tell you the story of how the FBI told me my uterus was stolen. I’d tell you our stories, and you’d lead us—
From To The Woman In The Pink Hat by Latoya Jordan published by on March 1, 2023, by Aqueduct Press. Copyright © 2023 LaToya Jordan.
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