What does Malcolm X tell his teacher he wants to be when he grows up?      

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When Malcolm X is in 8th grade, his English teacher, Mr. Ostrowski, asks what career Malcolm is thinking of pursuing. Malcolm is a very bright student who is at the top of his class. Malcolm tells his teacher that he wants to be a lawyer, but Mr. Ostrowski, who has been encouraging up until that point, tells the young Malcolm that the legal profession isn't realistic for a black person. Instead, the teacher urges Malcolm to consider something more realistic. At the same time, Malcolm hears Mr. Ostrowski encouraging the white kids in his class to stretch themselves in terms of their careers—even though they are far less promising academically than he is. At that point, Malcolm goes through an internal change and begins to shy away from white people and to chafe when people make racist remarks.

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Malcolm X told his junior high school English teacher that he wanted to be a lawyer. His teacher responded by telling Malcolm that this was an unrealistic goal. He tells Malcolm that he should think about becoming a carpenter instead. In his autobiography, Malcolm X describes this encounter as a turning point in his childhood. He dropped out of school the next year at the age of fifteen, having received the message that there was no point in a black man pursuing his education.

Malcolm was the only black student at his junior high school and he felt that he was smarter than most of his white classmates. Although his teachers supported the aspirations of his white peers, they did not give Malcolm the same hope.

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