Book Recommendations from Local Folks

Shaping a Better Family Care System

Jazzmine Recommends

Jazzmine ‘Rural Black Doula” Brooks is a scholar, certified full spectrum doula, and RYT 200 Hatha Yoga of the Himalayan Tradition and SomaYoga Therapy Instructor in Central Iowa. She believes in empowering Black, Indigenous, and folks of color through community, support, and resource sharing. Powered by the desire to address Black women and infant maternal health, she encourages space for people to control their narratives and share their own stories.

Jazzmine is the founder and Executive Director of Jai Olive Wellness. She also organizes a national summer book club (Lotus Sisters) and Kindred, a movement, restorative healing, and connection space. She hosts the Rural Black Doula Chronicles and the Being Olivia podcast. Jazzmine is currently a liaison for a doula project supporting Black families and co-creating a doula project to serve immigrant and refugee families.  She’s also currently a Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University and serves as the new Director for Healthy Incentives at Iowa Healthiest State Initiative.

Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington.

Why Jazzmine recommends this book: “This book was crucial in answering my many questions of “how we got here”. Context matters and helps to understand how strings of oppression, racial bias, and healthcare meet at the center of Black maternal mortality. This book is about truth-telling and lays the foundation for today’s public health concerns.”

Max Recommends

Max Mowitz is Program Director at One Iowa, Iowa’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, overseeing organizational programming, direct service, and community education. Max has been active in LGBTQ advocacy work since coming out in high school, focusing on comprehensive LGBTQ education to the broader community as a component of LGBTQ liberation. Max is a certified Community Health Worker and specializes in topics related to the Trans and Nonbinary community, LGBTQ birth work, LGBTQ-inclusive healthcare, and mental health.

Max serves as a board member for the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund. Max is pursuing their birth and postpartum doula certification and is practicing as a gender-affirming doula, serving Trans and Nonbinary individuals as they come out, access gender-affirming care, and live as their authentic selves. Max is passionate about justice and the liberation of all marginalized peoples. Max is a harpist, powerlifter, baker, abolitionist, and spouse to Austin.

Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts 

Why Max recommends this book: “Killing the Black Body is an essential read if you want to better understand the deep and violent history of reproductive injustice in the US as it relates to Black women. The book follows years of American history to highlight the ways that the US government has intentionally robbed Black women of their bodily autonomy. I have never read a book that was so educational and eye-opening and it completely shifted the way that I saw the history of reproductive healthcare in our country. This book is an essential read especially for white folks and healthcare providers.”


Trans Bodies Trans Selves by Laura Erikson Schroth

Why Max recommends this book: “Trans Bodies Trans Selves is a beautiful collection of work that was developed by many members of the Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Diverse communities to better educate the public on our experiences, identities, and needs for liberation. It is a joyful and educational read and is a great place for folks to start if they want to learn more about our community.”