Haminy Silva ’07 has built quite the resume since graduating from Antioch. Silva is the owner of Fox Hunt Records, LLC (http://foxhuntrecords.com) and recently released her debut full-length solo album in December 2013. She is currently living in Miami, Florida, finishing up a JD, an MBA in international business, and LLM in intercultural human rights at St. Thomas University.
When she is not in school or making music, she provides tax assistance to low-income communities, she is a member of the Intercultural Human Rights Law Review, vice president of the International Law Society, treasurer of both the American Constitution Society and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers. Silva also recently wrote a law review article that examines religious bias in the courts.
Even with her busy schedule, she has time to sit down with The Independent this month to talk about her inspirations, her academic drive and where it all started—Antioch College.
Tell us about your position and your current work.
Simply put, I am four people rolled into one. I am finishing a Juris Doctor, an MBA in international business, and a LLM (master of laws) in intercultural human rights. In my spare time, I own and manage my own independent record label, Fox Hunt Records. Recently, I released a full-length debut album using my artist name, “Aminah.” I write the songs, play guitar and sing. Visit my website at FoxHuntRecords.com to learn more and listen to the album.
Although some of my interests and professional pursuits may not seem to work in tandem, they all add to each other immensely. As the owner of a record label, I draft my own contracts, do my own accounting, and manage tax benefits/liabilities, as well as strategically position and plan for my business. As an artist/musician/writer, I put out my own product out through the label in order to promote both.
I need to be busy, ambitious and proactive, and I truly enjoy all of it. At the end of the day, I want to continually push myself and my community to better our world in any and all ways possible. Some people are motivated by money and material, tangible items; I am motivated by leaving a legacy, inspiring people, building community, and leaving this world better than it was when I arrived.
You're very passionate about your work. Why does it mean so much to you?
What (career-wise) are you most proud of?
In terms of music, I am most proud of creating something that is unique, and heartbreakingly sincere. The album is a concept album and the songs are connected to build a story. The nucleus of the album is a spoken-word parable.
In terms of my record label, I have been able to build the label myself and have enlisted help from talented friends, most of whom are Antiochians, to help with various aspects. Fox Hunt Records, LLC won a 3rd place Global Entrepreneurship Award in the developing entrepreneur category! This was a competition in which entrants had to provide a detailed business plan, set up a table, and make a formal presentation to the judges and attendees.
In terms of my formal education, I am most proud of my work in the LLM program. This program attracts the top activists and academics in their fields, which has provided me with an extremely diverse student peer group with wildly differing perspectives. Additionally, my education has provided me with a way to be involved in several worthy organizations like the Intercultural Human Rights Law Review as a member; International Law Society as vice president; American Constitution Society as treasurer; and Florida Association for Women Lawyers as treasurer. Furthermore, I have been doing pro-bono work preparing taxes for the surrounding under-privileged community and assisting with a grassroots organization, SAVE Dade, to facilitate a dialogue, which will hopefully materialize in the election of an LGBT-friendly local Miami representative in the upcoming election.
What did you study when you were at Antioch? How did your time at Antioch influence your work?
I studied Social and Global Studies (SGS) with a concentration in political science. Initially, I was not excited about fulfilling the general education requirements, but I must admit that being exposed to theater and the arts has made me a better, more empathetic, and more cultured person. My time at Antioch has influenced my work in every way possible. Antioch de-railed me completely. Before Antioch I had a passion for activism and social justice, but was trying to build a resume to get a job after college. Antioch exposed me to the arts, and thus helped me build a resume to create a life.
My co-op jobs illustrate the major change that happened. The first was working as a research assistant at the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the last was working as a technical intern at the San Francisco Mime Troupe. This is what Antioch does. It takes your seed for the passion to do the right thing and pushes you to stretch and expand your talents in ways you could not have imagined. My parents weren’t happy to hear I was living and working in a theater; however, in most job interviews I've had, they wanted to know more about me because of that job. If nothing else, Antioch certainly made me a more interesting person.
Socially, Antioch pushed me to grow as well. Everyone I went to school with was self-possessed and driven by something larger than themselves, and now I have this network of amazing creative people that I reach out to all the time. Many of us have remained incredibly close—we all know the value of community.
Antioch gave me many gifts, but the most precious one I learned through falling in love with a fellow Antiochian who taught me the art of kindness and compassion. Without that understanding, I would never be able to manifest this kind of passion for volunteering and human rights. It’s scary to think about, but I think I would’ve been a completely different person had I gone to school anywhere else.
Any professors that were particularly influential to either your work or your life?
Yes, Patricia “Pat” Mische, who was the peace studies professor during my time an Antioch, changed my life. I wandered into her class accidentally because I was lost trying to find my scheduled class, and she took me by the arm and guided me in. The class was Women, Peace, and World Community, and it taught me what community actually was and made me a feminist. On behalf of the organizations I serve at my currently law school St. Thomas University, we were able to fly her down from Maryland to speak at our school in November of 2013 (a link of the video was shared on the Antioch Alumni facebook group page). Pat and I have maintained contact, and while at Antioch, I was among the lucky few she brought to New York City to attend several briefings at the UN, IMF, World Bank, and the U.S. mission to the UN.
Louise Smith (current dean of community life), who has returned to the new Antioch, really ignited my passion for theater and the arts and taught me about Augusto Boal’s Theater of the Oppressed. I recently authored a law review article that will hopefully be published this year about religious bias in the court and how that undermines “outness.” In this article, I parallel Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Theater of the Oppressed as powerful tools to ignite community dialogue and change. Louise pushed us to hone our skills in all aspects of theater like writing, performing, and singing. Thank you, Louise and Pat!
What would you say to current Antioch students who are interested in a similar profession?
If you are interested in human rights (which of course you are, since you are at Antioch), take advantage of every single contact. Look at college as the beginning of your professional career. Develop your reputation accordingly. Strive to be the person your peers can count on because you will be getting job referrals from friends because most people prefer to hire people they know. Would your friends want to work with you and would they recommend you?
Get to know your professors on a personal level. You will need mentors and reference letters in the future. Volunteer to be involved with alumni weekends and at any job that you think may interest you, and take advantage of co-op experiences, which should challenge you to grow professionally and as a person. Work to increase emotional intelligence as well as to challenge yourself intellectually. It all matters.
More than anything, fall in love. Even if your heart gets broken, celebrate how feeling lost in that way changes you (for the better) forever. After all, these are the best years to figure out what you want and, most importantly, what you don’t want. You are an Antiochian. You are not going to be a graduate (some number) at just any school. We are revolutionaries and we make positive things happen in the world. We expect a lot from ourselves; our community and the world expects greatness from us. You must be emotionally intelligent to use your skills to manifest these changes and be trusted to do so.
What about your personal life? Family? Travel?
Due to my extensive involvement in school organizations, classes, and volunteer work, I've had little time for a personal life. Love manifests in a myriad of ways, and right now I am in love with my work and the creative process. As I mentioned earlier, quite a few of my friends have been helping me work towards my goals, and I've found sharing efforts and rewards is all I need for now.
That said, living near my family in South Florida has given me a chance to reconnect with my family as an adult. Unfortunately, I lost my father, with whom I was incredibly close, a few years ago. I have a brand new niece, Melissa, who was born this past December. Melissa is the first girl in my immediate family since myself, so I am looking forward to passing the torch and teaching her to sing and play guitar.
What does the future hold for you?
As I conclude this chapter of my life, education and getting the ball rolling on my music, I hope to find a position in which I can make change; human rights is my driving passion. This March, I am attending the CARE conference to lobby on behalf of legislation on gender-based violence. I hold many social justice causes so near and dear to my heart, I know I will find the right cause that needs me. I have to keep making music, networking with like-minded artists, promoting my label, and bring on new artists who want to innovate musically and want to do good in our world.
I completely own and realize that I am a workaholic, and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but I want to constrict my range slightly in order to pursue the most important issues with a focused intensity.
Tell us about your next project.
I am eager and ready for my next adventure to begin. I will be applying for undergraduate teaching positions, top-tier non-profit management, and NGO work all over the country. I am hoping that casting a wide net will yield the right type of opportunity.
In addition, I have started writing music for the second album. I am working to set up a tour schedule in order to promote the album, and thus the record label. Plus, after immersing myself in the world of law and formal education, I'm craving the thrill of performance, creation, and connection.
Whatever I end up doing in the future, there is no doubt in my mind that my Antioch family and our shared ideals will be there with me. I speak of our school and its legacy with great pride; I hope to make it proud by winning a major victory for humanity, sooner rather than later. When I do, I’m sure I will only be hungry for more.
Don’t quit, don’t ever stop, even in the face of failure, especially in the face of failure, and keep growing. Surround yourself with people who want the same things and who hunger for change and social justice. If you do these things, you will regret nothing.
I was a speaker at Graduation 2007, and I quoted Ghandi, “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits becomes your destiny.” Since I’ve left the “bubble” of Antioch, I have discovered that Ghandi’s advice could not have been any more on point.
I believe, more than anything, that art changes the world. Of course, we must lobby, and fight the good fight to create policy changes legislatively and judicially, but a dialogue and a bottom-up approach is critical in changing culture and hearts. This is our job as Antiochians, to lead by example and to educate our communities and have enough emotional intelligence that we can express compassion for those who have not yet seen the light. Strive to be the light the world can see, it’s what bonds us as Antiochians.