Song Flung Up to Heaven, by Maya Angelou (Random House, 256 pp.)
When I was in college in the early 1980s, the black folksinger Odetta was invited to campus to perform. Clad in African garb and accompanying herself on the guitar, she weaved together inspirational songs and savory anecdotes garnished with ancient wisdom. She rocked the house, the young and mostly white students delighted to be sitting at the feet of a black Earth goddess "telling it like it is." I thought I had a good time. But later my white roommate shocked me by dismissing the whole thing. His problem with Odetta was her smugness, her obvious expectation that her audience bow to her moral superiority without question.