Christopher Reader / by Michael Falco

Who is Christopher Reader?

Christopher Reader was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but studied computer science at the the University of Houston. He now works on the insurance IT side of a hospital system. He is interested in the community building of Grand Rapids and has chaired the Parks and Recreation Board. He currently serves on the Historical Preservation Committee. He is married with a baby son and young daughter. 

Excerpt from interview with Christopher Reader by Whitney Dow, 2017

Q: [04:56:39] You know, obviously, you’ve thought a lot about this. You care about it. You care about inequity. You clearly think about how you can make other people’s lives—so why do you think it is—you said earlier that you don’t have any close African American friends. With someone who cares this much about it and has thought through—why do you think that in your personal life you don’t have a more diverse set of close friends?

Reader: [04:56:50] I think that kind of speaks to the—so why don’t I have a lot of diverse friends? I think I don’t have a lot—a hugely diverse group of friends because of kind of the segregation that still exists in our nation and in my community. So even though I live in a really diverse neighborhood, my particular street is not that diverse. And even though—so, at work, I have people I like, but I don’t tend to be super close friends with work friends—with fellow employees, so that’s where I’m probably coming in contact with minorities the most. And, in fact on some of the teams I work on, the minorities are majorities, which is great. And then, in the community, I think it’s just because of where you draw your friends from. If you’re only really— if you’ve only really grown up around—so I guess I do have—now that I’m starting to think, I have friends who are minorities, but they’re typically not—they have not been black, and I haven’t spent a lot of time over my life with bla—my other black residents. And they’re certain—they weren’t in my school, and there are a few at work, and I think it’s just that you tend to draw your friends from whom you’re around the most.

Q: [04:57:30] Yes, so what was the last time that you either were at a black American’s house for dinner or had a black American in your house for dinner?

Reader: [04:57:34] I’ve never been to a black American’s house for dinner, and I’ve never had a black American to my—well, no, I did. So my sister’s boyfriend’s daughter was over, so we have definitely had a black American at our house, but I have not been to a house owned by black Americans and had dinner.


Reader: [05:00:00] Yeah, would I like to have a close black friend who’s my—I don’t want to feel like I should be friends with someone because they’re a color, because that seems just as bad. I would love to have a close black friend. I’d love another friend, right, and I’d love to go have dinner at their house and go to the bar or whatever. And uh –

Q: [05:00:11] Why?

Reader: [05:00:13] Because I do—well, I’d rather have the friend because they’re a friend. I mean, I would like to go to a dinner at a black person’s house who wasn’t a friend just because it just—it almost seems awful that I haven’t, you know, but we’re at—I think we’re in a weird place culturally anyways, right? So we don’t do a lot—when we do dinners, we’re doing dinners with close friends. I rarely go have dinner with an acquaintance. So, most people—I have a lot of friends that I haven’t actually had dinner at their house, I haven’t been to their house at all. So I guess it’s not that unusual that I wouldn’t have had dinner with people I know who are black, and I certainly have had dinner in public with people I know who are black. But it still seems kind of weird that—you know, there are just so many people in—I’ve had dinner with Indian people, and I’ve had dinner with Chinese people, and I’ve had dinner with Asian folks—well, Chinese are, but—yeah, I don’t know. I would like—I don’t feel like it’s something I need to do on my bucket list, but it still seems kind of shameful that I haven’t done it, right? I don’t know, it’s a good question. I think I would like to do it because it’s—you know, when you go to someone’s house it’s an intimate thing, right? So anyone, when you go to their house, it’s a privilege, I think, and you get to see a side of them that you wouldn’t see. And I just—I guess I just wished I had such a relationship with an African American person in the way I would have it with anyone else. And I don’t think there’s any particular barrier other than the fact that the circles we move in are who we draw our friends from, so—yeah.

Interview Transcript