"The Revisioners" is a multi-generational story. One narrative follows a 1920s Black woman who forms an unlikely friendship with a white woman. In a contemporary setting, her granddaughter of mixed heritage navigates the legacy her grandmother left behind.
Sexton said the earliest inspiration behind the story came from her move to the Dominican Republic with her husband in 2005.
“My husband is white, and I’m a Black woman,” Sexton said. “Before we moved to the Dominican Republic, we hadn’t really been exposed to racism as it related to our relationship.”
Sexton said many locals perceived her to be a Dominican woman of Haitian descent. She said she was often the target of racism as a result, whereas her white husband was treated almost king-like by the same people.
“A lot of the assumptions were that I was his prostitute, and they couldn’t conceive of any other connection we could have,” Sexton said. “Of course, it wasn’t everybody there, but it is embedded in the culture of the country.”
Sexton’s more recent inspiration for the novel was the 2016 general election, where she said the differences in voting patterns between Black and white women became apparent.
“I thought (the novel) is a good opportunity to start to facilitate conversation that might explore the historical gap between Black women and white women and hopefully heal them and contribute to more of a communion between those two groups,” Sexton said.
Sexton said a main goal of hers is that readers come together to talk about their situations and find common ground after reading the novel.
“There’s much more binding us than separating us, and there’s so much potential for us to rise as a group, battling the same oppressive circumstances and predicaments.”
Another objective of Sexton’s is to bring a sense of hope to all who read “The Revisioners,” especially to Black readers.
“We know there is inherited trauma between generations, but what about the power that we inherit from our ancestors’ struggles?” Sexton said. “What about the wisdom and the hope that comes from their triumphs, their survival over these terrible situations?”
Talia Smart, events manager at Flyleaf Books, said she thinks the book talk will be especially relevant for the UNC community.
“As a Southern community, there’s a lot that Margaret Wilkerson Sexton talks about in this book that is particularly tied to the South, like the legacy of the slavery and of the Southern white aristocracy,” Smart said. “I think both are legacies that are really influential on the way that UNC students engage with the world, so having a sort of insight on those issues from the perspective of someone that’s not a UNC student could be influential and important.”