CHICAGO — Shakeia Taylor loves to bring people together.
"In a weird way, I’m a uniter," said Taylor, who has put together a group of women from various backgrounds to attend sporting events across the city. "I usually just organize a game, watch and people show up. Make new friends. Learn a new sport."
"I started blogging about baseball as a way to sort of get my personal, sometimes ridiculous voice out there. Baseball has a diversity issue. It feels kind of lonely sometimes when you're a black woman who loves baseball and I know that it's not really that way, so I started seeking out others and found them," Taylor said.
"Now the media, and the commentators, should reflect that we exist. They should include us, not just black women but women period, in their marketing campaigns for more than just pink campaigns and singles events."
Through her blogging, Taylor was able to bring together women from different backgrounds to attend a Cubs game this summer.
"As a result, I got together almost 20 women this past June for a Cubs game and it was a blast. People around us were impressed to see such a large, diverse group of women at a game. We exist!," Taylor said. "We sat in the bleachers that game. But I want to do another one next year in the grandstand."
Last year, Taylor put together another group that empowers black women.
The "Champagne Club Gang" meets once a month at various restaurants across the city. Taylor estimates that between 20-40 women attend the brunches.
"A few black women I follow on Twitter expressed a need to be in a group of other black women due to the constant exposure to violence against black people. A group of friends who they could relate to, learn from, and from which they could gain support and encouragement," Taylor said.
"So I had the idea that we could meet for Sunday brunch and watch sports and connect that way. For our first year, we didn't have a name, but we recently decided on Champagne Girl Gang — because we drink lots of champagne and we move together and have each other's backs ... like a gang. But obviously much cuter."
Since the group's inception, Taylor said the women she met through Twitter have become close friends.
"Most of the women in the group, myself included, really look forward to the monthly brunch. We're friends now. We're a part of each other's lives," Taylor said. "I knew a couple of them personally, but for the most part, everyone met through Twitter. In the beginning, we kept the invite open, but we're now a pretty regular group."
The Champagne Girl Gang consists of an attorney, a journalist and educators among others.
Jamie Nesbitt-Golden, a journalist, echoes Taylor's sentiments on empowerment. She is a member of both of the groups Taylor has put together.
"She invited me to the brunch group last year. It's a great time. There's something calming about being surrounded by other black women," said Nesbitt-Golden, an occasional contributor to DNAinfo Chicago. "Shakeia organized a trip to Wrigley. Asked the brunch group if they wanted to go ... a number of us did."
Nesbitt-Golden said Taylor's easy-going nature has kept both groups going.
"Her enthusiasm is contagious," Nesbitt-Golden said. "She's got a genuine love for baseball and she shares it with everyone."
Taylor, an Ohio native who is a fan of the Cubs and their World Series opponent, the Cleveland Indians, wants the group to start doing community service geared toward mentoring young, black women.
"Many of them could use a mentor, a older homegirl like one of us. I wouldn't necessarily say we have any goals at this point other than brunch, bottomless mimosas, and incomparable friendship. There is nothing else in my world like these girls," Taylor said.
"We sometimes go to movies, Movies in the Park, concerts, or book events, or to get mani/pedis. It's like having a built-in set of 'plus ones' if you need it. Don't want to go alone? Ask. Someone will join you."
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