The Evolution of Tej Parker
Don’t worry. No spoilers on The Fate of the Furious incoming. Feel free to read this and then go see the movie or vice versa. I do recommend that you read this first then go see it if you are a black man wanting to really appreciate black intellectual excellence at work.
The movie was great. Go see it.
I wanna talk about Tej for a second because he is the character that has undergone the most palpable transformation throughout the series.
And I love it.
Tej’s character evolution from 2Fast to Fate has been done under a variety of directors. John Singleton started the vision for Tej as the hood connect in 2Fast. Just a regular street level dude hustlin’ some paper out of organizing a few races in Miami. We kind of expect these roles for black men in these kinds of movies given who Ludacris is and his image at the time. It also makes sense since Singleton also directed Boyz in the Hood. Between 2Fast and Fast 5, it looks like Tej did his googles and decided to upgrade himself on an intellectual level.
Fast 5, 6, and 7, which were directed by Justin Lin (5,6) and James Wan (7), show Tej as something that feels like kryptonite to the black community, a nerd. Tej goes on and on and on about sophisticated security systems and hacking computers while still being able to articulate how fast these damn cars are. He even goes as far as to make a harpoon gun out of a NOS tank. Potato gun anybody????
This is ingenuity beyond ***** technology. Beyond sending ******* smiley faces with your thumbs. (Rest in Power Brother Darkness)
F. Gary Gray continues this evolution of Tej in Fate and he does it well. It’s almost like he heard our prayers. When I say our, I mean the black men like myself that want to see other black men make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) look lit as fuck on the big screen.
Tej is a carefree black man.
Not the dudes with hair bows and flower petals strewn about their hair in feminine poses. (No shade. Just facts.) Tej goes from collecting money for illegal street races to speaking in full techie/hacker jargon throughout Fate. Not only that, he is cool under pressure. He makes decisions under pressure. He comes up with *solutions* under pressure and he does it with the coveted black masculine swagger. Could 2Fast Tej have done that?
I think Gray is very aware of this. It’s indicative throughout the movie with how Tej’s and Roman’s characters have been spruced up in varying degrees. I for one appreciate it immensely.
If you have a black son, nephew, younger cousin nearby and you have the opportunity soon, take him to see Fate of the Furious. Tell him to pay attention to Tej’s character. Talk to him about what he got out of Tej’s actions throughout the movie. Our sons need to see people that look like them doing boss shit with their intellect.
Big KRIT made it cool to be southern. Ludacris made it cool to be a nerd.