Asia Nared-Brooks is a reporter for the Omaha Star. The only Black owned newspaper in all of Nebraska’s 77,348 square miles. That is a fact that brings pride into her heart and fire into her feet. Understanding the importance of that fact has elevated her sense of purpose and love for the community.

It was not always that way for the Omaha native. “My story is slightly similar to the prodigal son’s return. I strayed away for a long time fighting the inevitable. Hiding from my truths. Sabotaging my potential. Shying away from the light that I was born into. What we all know about the light, is that it will always find you.” And boy did the light make its way to her, like the rising sun, it was inescapable.

“I ran away. For almost seven years, I wanted to be small, I wanted to be invisible, I was afraid of my power. I spoke very low to the point many folks would have asked me to speak up. I almost fully disappeared.” Almost is the key word. One day Asia woke up and decided that running away truly meant that there would be a return one day. They packed their bags in January of 2022 and drove 12 hours straight from Texas to Nebraska.

Fate, destiny, and the time that was spent on their education influenced this decision. “I was trained for this life. My mother’s involvement in the community, my father’s ability to out-write and out-talk just about anyone,” she shares. “I was a child of Douglas County Health Department’s community outreach efforts, my mother (Sherri Nared-Brooks) got the job eight months pregnant with me. My father (Walter Brooks [Former Omaha Star Reporter) has been writing since the 7th grade. I was born for this.”

Nared-Brooks almost missed the most important opportunity.  “I literally received a call that I did not want to answer. I was trying to take a nap and eat candy at the same time. Contradictory right?” That moment where you stare the future in the face, not knowing whether that moment can change your life or not. She answered and it changed everything.

‘Terri needs articles by 5, what do you have?’ Nared-Brooks had absolutely nothing. At that point, she did what any person who has lived by the “11:59p.m.” lifestyle does, get it done. The interview that returned Nared-Brooks to writing was about Allana Pommier and the theater show they created, the timing was perfect. The publishing came out a week before Pommier’s play debut.

“I conducted an interview, transcribed quotes, and drafted an article and sent it in under two hours.” And just like that, Asia was reborn into the home she was trained for.

The 2013 Mildred D Brown Junior Journalist program under the late great Jim Nelson of Jim Nelson Media Studios, Eris Mackey, Denise Chapman, and DeAnna Langabee was a strong foundation for her return to the Omaha Star in 2022. “Jim [Nelson] planted seeds in gardens he never got to see the fruit of. I still have a stopwatch that I accidentally borrowed from him. I never got the chance to give it back to him, so now I keep it until the day I find a student like he found me.”

Harold Anderson, from the Omaha World Herald, was in attendance of an interview where Asia spoke of the importance of Mildred D. Brown’s legacy for the community of Omaha. From that point Anderson took the time to invest into her education.  

Later that year, Nared-Brooks went on to win the Spirit of the Youth Award for 2015. She worked as a Sports Information Director from 2016-2018 at Nebraska Athletics for the Communication department in the Nebraska Huskers Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska.

“My decision to write again came from destiny. I took a long break from 2018 – 2022. [The decision] also came from all of the work I realized the adults of my life put into me. I had to become old enough to understand why it’s important to honor your teachers. They wanted this for me. They spent time on me. The community helped raise me and now it’s my turn to pass the baton. However it must be done, I will get it done.”

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Pranjal Doorwar