African American history is a critical dialog on American history, and in the hands of a capable instructor can give students an opportunity to learn a great deal about this country. Or it could be used to boost the self-esteem of 'inner-city at-risk youth'. It is the presumption of the latter that disables a sensible discussion in most places because when it comes down to it, there is no reason not to study African American history. It's history, therefore it should be studied, period end of discussion.
Avery on African American history:
The biggest enemy to accuracy, in my opinion, is politricks. Jokers all have their own perspective on how such-and-such should be taught. Why? Because they're not teaching history as a subject of inquiry, they're using it as a means of inculcation. Therefore, we get folks complaining about kids learning about Paul Robeson because he became a communist. We walk out of school thinking that Lincoln freed the slaves. Without knowing the details. We get the same person, depending on the political/ideological bent of the textbook maker, presented as a saint or a devil. One time in my life, I would like to hear a conservative commentator actually acknowledge that Columbus was a cold-blooded murderer. And I'd like to hear a progressive commentator admit that Columbus was a brave sailor who, even if everybody didn't think the world was flat like we've been told, did tried something that nobody (in the world as he knew it) had done before. People don't acknowledge the good and the bad, though. Cuz we want heroes to fuel our cultural mythologies.
See also Joanne Jacobs.