About Me


“So,
here you are
too foreign for home
too foreign for here.
never enough for both.” – Ijeoma Umebinyuo

For many wanderlusting Instagramers, this quote captions photos looking out over cliffs, beaches, or other beautiful foreign landscapes. However, upon first read, this quote caused me immediate awareness of just how foreign I felt in my current cultural and community landscape; and despite the vast amount of friends and family who surrounded me, just how foreign I felt at times back in the United States.

But before going further it would be impolite for me to not first properly introduce myself, and in doing so provide you some context for the many ramblings that are sure to fill this blog.

My name is Brice. I am the son of my mother who lives in Seattle where I was born and raised, and of my late father who was married to and lived in Seattle with my mother before his passing when I was just a few months old. On my mother’s side of the family there is a great deal of Norwegian heritage, and on my father’s a great deal of Czech. To keep things simple let’s just say I’m white American, but that’s where the simplicity ends.

When I was about 6 years old my mother adopted my first younger sister from India, and several years later adopted my second younger sister from Ethiopia. For the vast part of my formative years I was in a single-parent household with two internationally adopted siblings and experienced everything that came with that (e.g., spending Saturday mornings running around my mother’s office building as she put in overtime to make sure we had a good quality of life, single parent international adoption gatherings where I met other kids from all over the globe, going through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, etc.).

I’ve always had an incredibly loving and supportive mother over the years, and amazing friends at every stage of life, but my teenage/young-adult years could best be described as anti-social exploration. I suffered from depression, gained weight until I hit almost 400 pounds, quit my job, and eventually dropped out of college. After spending several months at rock bottom I rediscovered a motivation for life, started earning a paycheck again, went back to school, started losing weight (have lost over 160 pounds to date and counting), and re-enrolled in higher education, eventually moving away from my home in Seattle to attend law school in the San Francisco Bay Area.

During this re-engagement with life I was also guided to my spiritual home in the Islamic faith. Oddly enough it was my beautiful Christian friends who reconnected me with God, followed by several beautiful Muslims (a Pakistani friend in college, a white American convert criminal law professor in law school, and a Bangladeshi girl in Sydney) who helped me discover that the personal relationship I was building with God and my community aligned with the Islamic faith. After reading the Qur’an and other Islamic texts, and asking many questions of the Muslims in my life, I took Shahada (the Islamic testimony of faith stating that there is only one God, and that the Prophet Muhammad was his last and final messenger) at a Mosque in Seattle with my mother in attendance, and thus became a practicing Muslim.

Four years later that Bangladeshi girl from Sydney and I decided we wanted to get married. Just six years after packing my life into my car and driving from Seattle down the coast to San Francisco for law school, I packed my life into a few suitcases and hopped a plane from the United States to Australia to begin my new life down under.

So here I am. A white American Muslim expat living in Canberra, Australia (the capital, yes I swear it’s the capital, no Sydney is not the capital, I was just as shocked as you are when I found out).

All this brings me back to the beginning and the primary focus of this blog: my experiences as a white Muslim convert in this world (oh, and my addiction to all things caffeine). Don’t get it twisted, I love my family and friends and am very grateful and thankful to have lived and continue to live in beautifully diverse western societies and have access to welcoming and loving Muslim communities. But as a modern western Muslim convert I find myself neither fully belonging to the western communities in which I reside nor the traditional Muslim communities with whom I worship.

Fortunately, while this constant state of limbo feels lonely at times, I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife and mother who continuously support me in my journey, as well as other western Muslims seeking to create a new modern western Muslim cultural identity.

To conclude my opening post (which I will also copy and paste and use as my biography/about me because I’m lazy like that), I want to share the goals I have with this blog.

First, for western seekers (those exploring Islam) and western Muslims who feel disconnected from their faith, I hope this blog can help you develop your own cultural identity and serve as a reminder that you aren’t alone in going through your cultural identity crisis.

Second, for non-Muslims, I hope this blog demonstrates just how diverse the global Muslim population is (remember, there’s over 1.6 billion of us out there). In doing so I hope it helps humanize the Islamic faith when the worldwide media would rather flood our senses with the extreme minority of Muslims engaging in violence and carnage instead of the vast majority of Muslims who live their lives in everyday anonymity just like the rest of us.

Third, for all of those people–including and especially my Muslim brothers and sisters–who believe that western cultural practices and Islam are inherently incompatible, I hope this blog, which will include many references to Islamic scholarship as I dive deeper into my Islamic studies, will help you gain a better understanding of how these two seemingly irreconcilable opposites can exist together in harmony.

I am not out to convert or encourage others to engage in my own personal practices. I don’t even have the lofty ambition of getting you to agree with my opinions. My goal is simply to help you understand me and others like me. And through understanding each other I sincerely believe we can create safer, stronger, and more harmonious communities.

Sincerely,
Brice

brice@caffeinatedconvert.com