Michael Benitez Jr.

Michael Benitez Jr.

Acclaimed Activist-Scholar, Educator, and Practitioner



A highly sought out speaker at colleges and conferences nationwide, Dr. Michael Benitez is a nationally-acclaimed scholar practitioner and educator in the field of diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education. Dr. Benitez is known for his down-to-earth, insightful commentary, and critical perspectives on social and cultural issues, ranging from leadership and identity development, intersectionality, race and ethnicity, postcolonial thought, knowledge production, and critical pedagogy and practice in higher education.

Dr. Benitez has authored book chapters and articles on identity development, hip hop culture, cultural centers, cultural and ethnic studies, institutional research and campus climates, and faculty development. He is co-editor of the anthology, Crash Course: Reflections on the Film “Crash” for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege, and has contributed to online magazines, scholarly databases, books, and peer-reviewed journals. Benitez has been featured in educational documentaries such as Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity and has appeared on talk shows such as Worlds Apart, Hard Knock Radio, and Speak Out with Tim Wise and is occasionally invited to contribute to and appear on podcasts and media outlets, addressing some of today's most pressing diversity, equity, and inclusion issues and challenges.

Part of his success lies in his ability to speak heart-to-heart while bridging theory and scholarly inquiry with everyday life, his use of accessible language that multiple audiences can relate to, and his deep knowledge and practice of innovate equity and inclusion-based strategies and approaches to address some of higher education’s more pressing campus climate issues of today, providing multi-context and issue frameworks for empowerment and transformation. Benitez has helped create, shape, and lead such innovate programs as the Diversity Monologues- a critical spoken work initiative he has helped implement and shape at multiple institutions, the campus climate community participatory framework, and the NW5C consortium for supporting faculty of color.

Over the last two decades, Dr. Benitez has served higher education in different capacities, including; academic affairs, student affairs, diversity and inclusion and teaching, and currently serves as the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, and Associate Professor of Multicultural Education at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

Dr. Benitez completed both his B.S. and M.Ed. at the Pennsylvania State University, where he gained interest in pursuing doctoral studies as a TRIO student and McNair Scholar. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy with a focus on Social Justice in Higher Education, from Iowa State University School of Education, and has been recognized with multiple leadership and scholarly awards throughout his career.

Becoming Latino/a/x/e and the Invisible Lines that Divide & Unite Us in America This presentation explores the complexity of the collective sociocultural and political identity that is Latino/a/x/e. This identity is complicated by the political climate and the intersections of nationality, gender, language, religion, class, ethnicity, race, etc. which significantly impact how these communities are viewed in this country. The presentation aims to unpack, name, and heal, through a process of historicization and reflection, including deeper engagement with intersections of whiteness, anti-Blackness, religious imperialism, and “machismo” within pan-Latino/a/x/e cultural spaces and practice. Ultimately, we will learn how to move forward equity agendas that service Latia/o/x/e and other minoritized communities.

Examining Latinidad at the Crossroads of Race, Culture, and Society What are the ways Latinx people in the U.S. experience long-standing systemic racism and social inequities? In this presentation, Dr. Benitez explores the ways in which culture and racial politics such as colorism and anti-Blackness intersect among Latinx communities, and how Latinx people experience, navigate, and negotiate the U.S. in the midst of white supremacy, racial unrest, and the current political climate.

Other Speech Topics Include:

  • A Framework for Inter-and Cross-Cultural Collaboration
  • Leadership and Diversity: How Leaders can help Eliminate Organizational Bias
  • Strengthening Democracy: Minority-Serving Institutions and America’s Racial Reckoning
  • Hip Hop Pedagogy as Praxis for Transforming Consciousness and Engagement in Education.
  • Race[ing] to the border: The Colonial Legacy of U.S. Immigration Policy

  Topic Areas

Leadership Development
Summer Institute Instructors
Youth/Student Activism/Leadership
High School Programs
Hip Hop
Race/Racial Justice/Racism
Professional Development
Whiteness/White Supremacy

  Related Links


Examining Latinidad w/ Michael Benitez Jr.


South Seattle College Lecture - Dr. Michael Benitez Jr., October 5, 2016

Michael is one of the most brilliant and engaging people that I have had the privilege to meet and hear speak. His wide-ranging interpersonal skills allow him to communicate complex ideas in a way that takes into consideration the needs and backgrounds of his audiences.
Warren Blumenfeld assistant professor in curriculum and instruction at Iowa State University and co-editor of Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States

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