Robert Hartwell appears on Broadway in New York in various musical roles and apparently earns good money in the process. So the actor and singer could afford to buy a nice big house in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Hartwell likes the house not only because of its location and size – as a black man it also has a symbolic meaning for him because this house was built by slaves.
The property was completed in 1820, 200 years ago. Hartwell is proud that a black man has the wealth and social position to buy such a house today. "I know that this house is bigger than me," he wrote in a post on his-Page. "I wish I could tell my ancestors when they worked their backs to build this house that 200 years later the house would belong to a gay black man."
Hartwell experienced racism himself when buying it
Nevertheless, Hartwell also found out that this is not a matter of course. Because when he bought his house, at least subliminal racism hit him. The previous owner requested that the entire sum for the house should be paid in cash. "I'm sure they'll be out," the broker then told him, Hartwell reports on Facebook.
"Don't underestimate a hard-working black man," he continued. Apparently the broker hadn't believed that a black man would have the financial means to do so. But Hartwell was so enthusiastic about the house on a tour that he immediately put the sum on the table.
He also honors his ancestors, who have been brutally suppressed by whites. The owners of the local cotton plantation had their black slaves built, Hartwell wrote. When the broker asked him why he really wanted this house, he only replied: "This is a generation thing."