Born into a Southern Baptist family, and having converted to Islam as an adult, Kathy has a privileged insight into what it is like to be Muslim in America. She particularly is able to see the prejudices Muslims face—especially, she believes, after 9/11. For many Americans, the hijab that Kathy and other (though not all) Muslim women wear to cover their hair is a symbol of women’s oppression and of scary “otherness.” Kathy’s mother, for instance, often asks her to “take that thing off” when she’s away from her husband or at home—as if Zeitoun forced Kathy to wear it.
For Kathy, however, the hijab is a powerful reminder of the life choice she made to convert to Islam, and of the commitment of faith that she continues to make each day. By choosing to wear the hijab, Kathy believes she is choosing dignity and peace, something she admired in Muslim women she met before converting. She often touches or rearranges it at moments of confusion or uncertainty, drawing strength from this physical reminder of her faith.