2023 Man of the Year: California Diversity Chief Kevin Hooks

Kevin E. Hooks (Vimeo)
December 31, 2023

We had our misgivings when a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion guru named Kevin E. Hooks landed a six-figure gig as the California Justice Department's first ever chief diversity officer. Surely that department, which devotes itself to investigating police, persecuting conservative school boards, and suing the state's Republican cities, would grow more obnoxious under a DEI chief.

But Hooks isn't your average DEI nightmare. When he lets his hair down on obscure podcasts, he likes to speak his truth, however uncomfortable. Take, for example, his willingness to probe the troubling questions, such as whether rape victims should take some responsibility for their unenviable fate.

He reflected in a 2018 podcast that Hollywood actresses who accused movie mogul and Democratic megadonor Harvey Weinstein of rape and assault may have been trading sex for film roles.

"What's the psychology," Hooks pondered, "that separates a woman's Spidey senses from going, 'I'm not going in there,' to [doing] the cost-benefit analysis of 'But this is my opportunity to get a job, and I've been in this industry for 20 years, toiling away, waiting tables on the side, and I finally get an invitation to Mecca'" (Mecca referring to Weinstein).

Hooks's sister would never have put up with Weinstein's foul advances, Hooks said: "She'd have punched him and kicked him and left."

The DEI guru's remarks were especially prescient given that California first lady Jennifer Siebel Newsom claimed last year to be one of Weinstein's victims. Weinstein's lawyer used Hooks's logic in court, arguing that Siebel Newsom made her accusation because she couldn't "square in her mind the idea that she's a successful, well-educated, well-bred, refined woman who had consensual sex with Harvey Weinstein in exchange for opportunity and access." (The jury acquitted Weinstein of Newsom's charges.)

We hoped to follow Hooks's promising career at the California DOJ. Alas, his time there was short—ending about three months after he was hired, according to his LinkedIn. The department even deleted its January 2023 press release announcing his hire.

But for a moment, Hooks offered some relief in California's DEI hellscape. If more DEI chiefs held such cancellable opinions, perhaps our corporations and universities might one day embrace true diversity and inclusivity. Hooks is a 2023 Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.