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Letha Byrd 2021-06-09
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Let's run through the God of Mischief's Marvel Cinematic Universe history before his series begins Wednesday.
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Letha Byrd 2021-04-28
img
US and Chinese may not be seeking a war, but the interactions between their forces, and the close calls they sometimes have, could lead to one.
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0
Letha Byrd 2021-01-22
img

It’s now fairly common for cities to install surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities to help catch criminals  — Beijing and Moscow use them extensively. However, a city in northern India is taking a different approach: it wants to detect distress on women’s faces, so it can assist them when they’re attacked or threatened. Cops in Lucknow, the capital city in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), aim to install an AI-based camera system on 200 crime hotspots that will alert the police force’s control room if the system detects distress on the women’s face. Not only is the premise of this solution…

This story continues at The Next Web
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Letha Byrd 2020-08-22
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DC FanDome revealed the Batman's allies must face off against the Court of Owls and other villains, after the Dark Knight's apparent death.
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0
Letha Byrd 2021-06-08
img
It’s rare that a truly new way to make coffee is invented, and nearly all of them have one thing in common: heat. After all, it’s hot water that quickly extracts flavor and body from grounds. But Osma, a new device using an entirely novel coffeemaking technique, makes a rich, strong espresso-like drink at any […]
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Letha Byrd 2021-03-13
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My husband is white and I am Black. When we learned we were having a daughter, we quickly set goals for how we would raise her: She should be strong and happy. She would love books and reading. And I wanted her to feel confident in herself ― and her natural hair. 

With these goals in mind, I waddled my pregnant self through Barnes and Noble on one of our frequent trips, excited to check out the brightly colored kids’ section. I was overjoyed to see several books on Black hair. Books that would have been useful for me growing up as I often struggled to force a white standard of beauty onto myself. We picked up books filled with Black characters sporting Afro puffs, locs and box braids. As we added these books into our baby’s rapidly growing library, I felt confident that my child wouldn’t struggle with the same issues I did. 

In the weeks leading up to baby’s arrival, l followed several mixed-race families on social media, trying to learn how they dealt with raising their families. Sometimes I’d look at pictures of mixed babies and try to envision what my daughter would look like. For all my daydreaming of my child, there was one constant: I knew she would be brown-skinned like me. It would obviously be lighter, but she and I would be brown. Melanin is the stronger gene, or so I thought.

After Luna was born, I told myself she would likely darken with time. Most Black people I knew had some shift in their skin tone as babies. But as the weeks and then months passed, that didn’t happen. The brown-skinned, kinky-haired Luna of my daydreams didn’t exist. Real-life Luna is pale-skinned with gray/hazel eyes and loosely curly blondish-brown hair. (Hair that eventually grew in after what I affectionately call her “Bernie Sanders phase”). 

My mom told me if I wanted a Black baby, I should have married a Black man. I married the man I love and who loves me in equal measure. But that didn’t ease my inner turmoil. I looked at Luna and saw my husband. I didn’t see me in my child. I felt othered in my own house, a feeling I had fought my whole life.

Growing up, I struggled to feel comfortable in my own skin. In a family of headstrong, assertive Black women, I wasn’t any of that. I was always quiet and sensitive. Content to hide away with a book or lock away in my bedroom with a Sailor Moon marathon. At times I looked at my Blackness as something I wanted to outrun. I thought if I were anything other than Black, people wouldn’t make fun of me for liking anime or loving rock music. Back then I thought I didn’t fit in because I wasn’t white.

It wasn’t until college when a professor commented that I should embrace my own culture that I was able to open my eyes to a lifetime of consciously and unconsciously equating Blackness with badness. I was “weird,” I was “different,” but I still was, and always would be, Black.

Luna at 1 year old.

I opened myself to loving my race, loving my identity, loving a massive part of me. I thought I had laid that internal struggle to bed until I gave birth to Luna.

We live in a midsized, liberal dot of a city in the mitten state that’s not Detroit. Interracial relationships are common, but a Black woman with a white man less so. Funny looks and snide comments can be a dime a dozen, but they become something you ignore. I had to talk my husband down the first time we got an insulting comment from a Black man. Together we learned to laugh about it. 

That effortless ability to brush off raised eyebrows evaporated after I gave birth. The hyper-awareness of being out with my own child churned anxiety in my chest. Double takes and lingering stares became commonplace. I caught myself saying “Mommy loves you,” with extra emphasis on Mommy. I am Luna’s Mommy, and I wanted random people to know she grew inside of me even if she didn’t look like it. 

During my pregnancy, I read articles and first-person accounts of people accusing parents of kidnapping their mixed-race kids. Those stories haunted me. I openly expressed those thoughts to my husband, who did his best to reassure me. When we would go out together, I used his whiteness as a shield. In my mind, he protected us from these things. But he wouldn’t always be there, and I hated that fact.

My mom took Luna and me grocery shopping one day. As we were masking up and getting Luna in the shopping cart, an older white man kept staring at us. I mentioned his gawking to my mom, who at first brushed it off. In the store, as we walked the aisles to find what I needed for my first attempt at white chicken chili, the same white guy kept staring at us. Anytime we were in an aisle near him, he kept an eye on us. My mom wanted to yell at him, but I talked her down. This was our reality, and that fact made my heart ache.

Both of us at 1 year old.

Luna, however, is unfazed by these things. She looks at the world with the bright optimism that only a baby can. My husband and I look at her and see the smartest, funniest, prettiest baby in the whole world. I know that in the future we will have to have conversations about her identity and the color of her skin. We will tackle those issues head on. Telling her she is both Black and white, she can be both, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. 

One evening I dug through some old boxes of my stuff looking for something when I came across some of my baby pictures. I almost cried. That little girl is my daughter. There was no mistaking it. Right down to the chubby cheeks and the gap in her teeth. 

Excitedly, I shoved the Polaroid at my husband, exclaiming, “That’s Luna!” With a chuckle, he agreed. I picked up Luna and held her close. I saw it. For the first time I saw me in my daughter. Luna’s face is my face.

This article first appeared on HuffPost Personal

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Letha Byrd 2020-12-30
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From record-beating scientific discoveries to an elephant baby boom, this year was about much more than just a global pandemic.
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Letha Byrd 2021-06-05
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Listen, if you’re going to take them, follow these precautions so they don’t go anywhere you don’t intend them to.
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0
Letha Byrd 2021-02-05
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Bytedance ad for homework spy lamp Dali
The Dali smart lamp, ByteDance's popular but creepy homework assistant, appeals to remote parents but overlooks the needs of children.
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0
Letha Byrd 2020-09-03
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Winter’s coming, as the old Game of Thrones saying goes, bringing with it a raft load of bills. Well, far more than summer in any case.

Those who’ve been working from home since the pandemic began will have probably felt the pinch already, as bill prices edge upwards.

So, what can you do to temper those rising overheads? It depends on the type of bill you’re looking to cut down on. We’ll walk you through it.

ENERGY

Switch bill provider 

This could save you serious pennies. MoneySuperMarket’s energy expert, Sarah Jacques, says if you’re on your supplier’s standard tariff, or if you haven’t switched for 12 months, you’re probably paying too much for your energy. “You should consider switching to a cheaper fixed rate now to get the best price possible and lock in energy costs for winter whilst prices are low,” she says. 

On average, people who switch providers save £286 a year. You can do this online, with your supplier handling the switching process so it’s not too much legwork. And as MoneySavingExpert’s spokesperson points out: “Your supply won’t be cut off, no one visits your property and all that changes is which firm bills you. Even if you’re renting, you’re allowed to switch.”

Jacques recommends checking out energy tariffs from Eon, Shell Energy, and Outfox the Market. Even if you don’t want to switch provider, it’s worth looking into different tariffs, as you could switch to a more favourable rate. Check out MSE’s Cheap Energy Club to find out more.

Check if you’re eligible for discounts or freebies

If you’re struggling to pay your bills, there are plenty of grants and freebies on offer from energy providers – from new boilers to loft and cavity wall insulation. A spokesperson for MoneySavingExpert explains: “It’s all part of their efficiency obligations to people in certain groups, like those receiving universal credit, tax credits, pension credit or income-based benefits. Our full Free Insulation & Boilers guide has more.”

Other schemes to take advantage of include the Winter Fuel Payment (a one-off payment to help pay for heating in winter, usually if you were born on or before 5 April 1954) and Cold Weather Payments, available for people receiving certain benefits. With the latter, people receive a payment when the average temperature in their area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for seven consecutive days. This year’s scheme starts on November 1.

The Warm Home Discount scheme is another deal worth looking into. It’s a £140 rebate applied to your electricity bill between September and March – unless you have a prepay meter, in which case you’ll be sent a top-up voucher. If you get pension credit, it should come automatically, and if you’re on certain benefits you may qualify, but you must apply, says MSE’s spokesperson.

The government has also announced that up to £5,000 in vouchers will be issued to homeowners in England to install loft, floor and wall insulation, or double-glazing. “It’s not simple though,” says MSE’s spokesperson, “you need to make certain major improvements before you can claim for minor ones.”

Turn appliances off at night

Don’t keep your work laptop and other appliances on overnight. Turning off standby appliances can save you an average of £30 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. “Consider investing in plug sockets that can be turned on and off via your phone, or a cheaper option is to use timer plugs to schedule turning appliances off,” says Jacques.

Buy energy efficient products

Jacques also advises people to buy energy efficient appliances when it’s time to replace white goods. “It is definitely worth opting for appliances with a high energy-efficiency ratings,” she says. “For example, an A+++ fridge freezer will save around £320 in energy bills over its lifetime, compared to an A+ model.”

Get a smart meter

Getting a smart meter installed can be easier said than done, but if you’re able to, it’s worth the hassle. It lets you track your energy consumption with accurate and real-time information, so you can be more aware of how much you’re using and work to keep costs down.

“It might also be worth considering installing a smart thermostat to make sure you’re using your heating efficiently,” says Jacques. “Learn how long it takes to heat your home and heat only the rooms you are using.”

Turn down your thermostat

With almost half of the cost of energy bills coming from heating and hot water use, turning your heating down by one degree could save you up to £80 a year, says Jacques. Find more tips for keeping your house warm cheaply, here.

INTERNET

Switch your broadband

Usually, there’s no need for engineers to come out to your home – unless you’re joining or leaving Virgin, where a new line may need to be installed. When making a comparison, consider if you really have a need for speed, as faster is generally pricier. The standard average 10/11Mb is usually fine for browsing or light TV streaming for one person, but go faster for good streaming, gaming or if multiple people use the broadband at the same time. 

If you’re happy with your current set-up and you’re out of contract, broadband providers are among the easiest to haggle with. Benchmark the best deal on the market, tell them you want to leave, be polite and charming, and if it’s looking like they’ve gone as far as they can, don’t be afraid to tell them you need time to go away and think before making a final decision.

WATER

There are two benefits to saving water at home – firstly, you save money, and secondly, it’s good for the planet.

Get water-saving freebies from your supplier

Lots of water suppliers offer free water-saving devices including ‘save a flush’ toilet devices (which reduce the amount of water flushed away) and tap aerators, which save water by mixing water with air. Or, try a four-minute water timer, which is designed to cut the time you spend in the shower. Get in touch with your supplier to find out what’s on offer.

Products vary by water company, and you can only get one item per household, including shower heads, tap inserts and hose nozzles, to regulate water flow.

Go straight to the freebies via Save Water Save Money, unless you’re with Anglian, Northumbrian, Thames, Welsh and Essex & Suffolk Water.

Shower instead of having a bath

Showers are more water-efficient than baths, and should be your first choice for an eco-friendly wash. Keep them as short as possible and avoid running the water for a long time before getting in. If you only have a tub, you can save five litres of water just by running your bath an inch lower, according to Water UK.

Fill your dishwasher, not the sink

According to Friends of the Earth, filling up the dishwasher completely each time you run it will use less water than if you did the washing up – just make sure it really is a full load.

Get a water butt

If your garden is your pride and joy, but you use a ton of water to keep it nourished, invest in a water butt. This means you can use leftover rainwater to tend to your plants, instead of draining precious fresh water. Just one filled water butt holds enough rainwater to fill a watering can 25 times.

Could you benefit from a water meter? 

Some have slashed hundreds off their bills by fitting water meters and cutting down on their usage, says MoneySavingExpert. “Unlike with gas and electricity, you can’t switch to a cheaper provider, but deciding how you’re billed can help make savings. The rule of thumb is: if there are more bedrooms in your home than people, or the same number, check out getting a meter.”

Don’t be afraid to say if you’re struggling

When money’s tight and bills are piling up, it can be easy to bury your head in the sand. But Citizens Advice recommends if you’re behind on water payments, get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible. Otherwise they might take you to court.

Most water companies have hardship schemes or other ways to help customers who talk to them about problems – some even have a special debt line service. Check out helpful advice on negotiating with your water company here.

COUNCIL TAX

Challenge how much you’re paying

You might think there’s no wiggle room when it comes to council tax, but you’re wrong. An estimated 400,000 households in England and Scotland are thought to have overpaid on council tax by being on the wrong band, according to MSE.

It’s easy to check and challenge your council tax banding at no cost. If you’re successful, you reduce what you pay now, as well as getting a backdated rebate stretching more than 20 years.

So, how to get cracking? “First check if your band’s higher than neighbours in similar or identical properties, using the Valuation Office Agency website in England,” says MSE’s spokesperson. “If neighbours in similar properties are in a lower band than you, you may have a claim.”

Norfolk, Virginia, United States

Check house price websites like Zoopla or Rightmove to get an idea of your property’s value now. Then use that figure to estimate what your property would have been worth back in 1991, when the current council tax system was launched, and what band it was in.

A word of warning though, the result could go one of two ways. “Once you’ve done those two checks, you need to weigh up whether you want to go ahead with a challenge – if you do, you can do this via the Valuation Office Agency (VOA),” says MSE’s spokesperson. “It’s important to understand though that your band could be moved up as well as down – and there’s even a risk your neighbours’ banding could be reassessed, which might not make you very popular if it goes up.”

Are you eligible for discounts?

Some people can get discounts on their council tax. You should receive a discount if you: live alone, live only with someone who’s under 17 or a full-time student, live with someone with mental health problems, live with someone who is severely disabled, or earn below a certain amount of money (although this depends on where you live).

collect
0
Letha Byrd 2020-07-18
img
Everything you need to know about the best type of policies -- and the insurance companies that sell them.
collect
0
Letha Byrd 2021-05-02
img
They twist and turn on their way to Earth, which has made it nearly impossible to identify the colossal monsters that create them.
collect
0
Letha Byrd 2021-01-21
img
Video game movies have been around since Super Mario Bros. in 1993, and they have had very mixed success over the years. These are the best video game movies.
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Letha Byrd 2020-08-24
img
A newborn African wild donkey, one of the world's rarest and most endangered mammals, has been born at a zoo in the U.K.
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Letha Byrd 2020-07-10
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After being booted from the ASX earlier this year, Animoca Brands is going for another IPO attempt.
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Letha Byrd 2021-06-09
img
Let's run through the God of Mischief's Marvel Cinematic Universe history before his series begins Wednesday.
Letha Byrd 2021-06-05
img
Listen, if you’re going to take them, follow these precautions so they don’t go anywhere you don’t intend them to.
Letha Byrd 2021-04-28
img
US and Chinese may not be seeking a war, but the interactions between their forces, and the close calls they sometimes have, could lead to one.
Letha Byrd 2021-02-05
img
Bytedance ad for homework spy lamp Dali
The Dali smart lamp, ByteDance's popular but creepy homework assistant, appeals to remote parents but overlooks the needs of children.
Letha Byrd 2021-01-22
img

It’s now fairly common for cities to install surveillance cameras with facial recognition capabilities to help catch criminals  — Beijing and Moscow use them extensively. However, a city in northern India is taking a different approach: it wants to detect distress on women’s faces, so it can assist them when they’re attacked or threatened. Cops in Lucknow, the capital city in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), aim to install an AI-based camera system on 200 crime hotspots that will alert the police force’s control room if the system detects distress on the women’s face. Not only is the premise of this solution…

This story continues at The Next Web
Letha Byrd 2020-09-03
img

Winter’s coming, as the old Game of Thrones saying goes, bringing with it a raft load of bills. Well, far more than summer in any case.

Those who’ve been working from home since the pandemic began will have probably felt the pinch already, as bill prices edge upwards.

So, what can you do to temper those rising overheads? It depends on the type of bill you’re looking to cut down on. We’ll walk you through it.

ENERGY

Switch bill provider 

This could save you serious pennies. MoneySuperMarket’s energy expert, Sarah Jacques, says if you’re on your supplier’s standard tariff, or if you haven’t switched for 12 months, you’re probably paying too much for your energy. “You should consider switching to a cheaper fixed rate now to get the best price possible and lock in energy costs for winter whilst prices are low,” she says. 

On average, people who switch providers save £286 a year. You can do this online, with your supplier handling the switching process so it’s not too much legwork. And as MoneySavingExpert’s spokesperson points out: “Your supply won’t be cut off, no one visits your property and all that changes is which firm bills you. Even if you’re renting, you’re allowed to switch.”

Jacques recommends checking out energy tariffs from Eon, Shell Energy, and Outfox the Market. Even if you don’t want to switch provider, it’s worth looking into different tariffs, as you could switch to a more favourable rate. Check out MSE’s Cheap Energy Club to find out more.

Check if you’re eligible for discounts or freebies

If you’re struggling to pay your bills, there are plenty of grants and freebies on offer from energy providers – from new boilers to loft and cavity wall insulation. A spokesperson for MoneySavingExpert explains: “It’s all part of their efficiency obligations to people in certain groups, like those receiving universal credit, tax credits, pension credit or income-based benefits. Our full Free Insulation & Boilers guide has more.”

Other schemes to take advantage of include the Winter Fuel Payment (a one-off payment to help pay for heating in winter, usually if you were born on or before 5 April 1954) and Cold Weather Payments, available for people receiving certain benefits. With the latter, people receive a payment when the average temperature in their area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below for seven consecutive days. This year’s scheme starts on November 1.

The Warm Home Discount scheme is another deal worth looking into. It’s a £140 rebate applied to your electricity bill between September and March – unless you have a prepay meter, in which case you’ll be sent a top-up voucher. If you get pension credit, it should come automatically, and if you’re on certain benefits you may qualify, but you must apply, says MSE’s spokesperson.

The government has also announced that up to £5,000 in vouchers will be issued to homeowners in England to install loft, floor and wall insulation, or double-glazing. “It’s not simple though,” says MSE’s spokesperson, “you need to make certain major improvements before you can claim for minor ones.”

Turn appliances off at night

Don’t keep your work laptop and other appliances on overnight. Turning off standby appliances can save you an average of £30 a year, according to the Energy Saving Trust. “Consider investing in plug sockets that can be turned on and off via your phone, or a cheaper option is to use timer plugs to schedule turning appliances off,” says Jacques.

Buy energy efficient products

Jacques also advises people to buy energy efficient appliances when it’s time to replace white goods. “It is definitely worth opting for appliances with a high energy-efficiency ratings,” she says. “For example, an A+++ fridge freezer will save around £320 in energy bills over its lifetime, compared to an A+ model.”

Get a smart meter

Getting a smart meter installed can be easier said than done, but if you’re able to, it’s worth the hassle. It lets you track your energy consumption with accurate and real-time information, so you can be more aware of how much you’re using and work to keep costs down.

“It might also be worth considering installing a smart thermostat to make sure you’re using your heating efficiently,” says Jacques. “Learn how long it takes to heat your home and heat only the rooms you are using.”

Turn down your thermostat

With almost half of the cost of energy bills coming from heating and hot water use, turning your heating down by one degree could save you up to £80 a year, says Jacques. Find more tips for keeping your house warm cheaply, here.

INTERNET

Switch your broadband

Usually, there’s no need for engineers to come out to your home – unless you’re joining or leaving Virgin, where a new line may need to be installed. When making a comparison, consider if you really have a need for speed, as faster is generally pricier. The standard average 10/11Mb is usually fine for browsing or light TV streaming for one person, but go faster for good streaming, gaming or if multiple people use the broadband at the same time. 

If you’re happy with your current set-up and you’re out of contract, broadband providers are among the easiest to haggle with. Benchmark the best deal on the market, tell them you want to leave, be polite and charming, and if it’s looking like they’ve gone as far as they can, don’t be afraid to tell them you need time to go away and think before making a final decision.

WATER

There are two benefits to saving water at home – firstly, you save money, and secondly, it’s good for the planet.

Get water-saving freebies from your supplier

Lots of water suppliers offer free water-saving devices including ‘save a flush’ toilet devices (which reduce the amount of water flushed away) and tap aerators, which save water by mixing water with air. Or, try a four-minute water timer, which is designed to cut the time you spend in the shower. Get in touch with your supplier to find out what’s on offer.

Products vary by water company, and you can only get one item per household, including shower heads, tap inserts and hose nozzles, to regulate water flow.

Go straight to the freebies via Save Water Save Money, unless you’re with Anglian, Northumbrian, Thames, Welsh and Essex & Suffolk Water.

Shower instead of having a bath

Showers are more water-efficient than baths, and should be your first choice for an eco-friendly wash. Keep them as short as possible and avoid running the water for a long time before getting in. If you only have a tub, you can save five litres of water just by running your bath an inch lower, according to Water UK.

Fill your dishwasher, not the sink

According to Friends of the Earth, filling up the dishwasher completely each time you run it will use less water than if you did the washing up – just make sure it really is a full load.

Get a water butt

If your garden is your pride and joy, but you use a ton of water to keep it nourished, invest in a water butt. This means you can use leftover rainwater to tend to your plants, instead of draining precious fresh water. Just one filled water butt holds enough rainwater to fill a watering can 25 times.

Could you benefit from a water meter? 

Some have slashed hundreds off their bills by fitting water meters and cutting down on their usage, says MoneySavingExpert. “Unlike with gas and electricity, you can’t switch to a cheaper provider, but deciding how you’re billed can help make savings. The rule of thumb is: if there are more bedrooms in your home than people, or the same number, check out getting a meter.”

Don’t be afraid to say if you’re struggling

When money’s tight and bills are piling up, it can be easy to bury your head in the sand. But Citizens Advice recommends if you’re behind on water payments, get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible. Otherwise they might take you to court.

Most water companies have hardship schemes or other ways to help customers who talk to them about problems – some even have a special debt line service. Check out helpful advice on negotiating with your water company here.

COUNCIL TAX

Challenge how much you’re paying

You might think there’s no wiggle room when it comes to council tax, but you’re wrong. An estimated 400,000 households in England and Scotland are thought to have overpaid on council tax by being on the wrong band, according to MSE.

It’s easy to check and challenge your council tax banding at no cost. If you’re successful, you reduce what you pay now, as well as getting a backdated rebate stretching more than 20 years.

So, how to get cracking? “First check if your band’s higher than neighbours in similar or identical properties, using the Valuation Office Agency website in England,” says MSE’s spokesperson. “If neighbours in similar properties are in a lower band than you, you may have a claim.”

Norfolk, Virginia, United States

Check house price websites like Zoopla or Rightmove to get an idea of your property’s value now. Then use that figure to estimate what your property would have been worth back in 1991, when the current council tax system was launched, and what band it was in.

A word of warning though, the result could go one of two ways. “Once you’ve done those two checks, you need to weigh up whether you want to go ahead with a challenge – if you do, you can do this via the Valuation Office Agency (VOA),” says MSE’s spokesperson. “It’s important to understand though that your band could be moved up as well as down – and there’s even a risk your neighbours’ banding could be reassessed, which might not make you very popular if it goes up.”

Are you eligible for discounts?

Some people can get discounts on their council tax. You should receive a discount if you: live alone, live only with someone who’s under 17 or a full-time student, live with someone with mental health problems, live with someone who is severely disabled, or earn below a certain amount of money (although this depends on where you live).

Letha Byrd 2020-08-22
img
DC FanDome revealed the Batman's allies must face off against the Court of Owls and other villains, after the Dark Knight's apparent death.
Letha Byrd 2020-07-18
img
Everything you need to know about the best type of policies -- and the insurance companies that sell them.
Letha Byrd 2021-06-08
img
It’s rare that a truly new way to make coffee is invented, and nearly all of them have one thing in common: heat. After all, it’s hot water that quickly extracts flavor and body from grounds. But Osma, a new device using an entirely novel coffeemaking technique, makes a rich, strong espresso-like drink at any […]
Letha Byrd 2021-05-02
img
They twist and turn on their way to Earth, which has made it nearly impossible to identify the colossal monsters that create them.
Letha Byrd 2021-03-13
img

My husband is white and I am Black. When we learned we were having a daughter, we quickly set goals for how we would raise her: She should be strong and happy. She would love books and reading. And I wanted her to feel confident in herself ― and her natural hair. 

With these goals in mind, I waddled my pregnant self through Barnes and Noble on one of our frequent trips, excited to check out the brightly colored kids’ section. I was overjoyed to see several books on Black hair. Books that would have been useful for me growing up as I often struggled to force a white standard of beauty onto myself. We picked up books filled with Black characters sporting Afro puffs, locs and box braids. As we added these books into our baby’s rapidly growing library, I felt confident that my child wouldn’t struggle with the same issues I did. 

In the weeks leading up to baby’s arrival, l followed several mixed-race families on social media, trying to learn how they dealt with raising their families. Sometimes I’d look at pictures of mixed babies and try to envision what my daughter would look like. For all my daydreaming of my child, there was one constant: I knew she would be brown-skinned like me. It would obviously be lighter, but she and I would be brown. Melanin is the stronger gene, or so I thought.

After Luna was born, I told myself she would likely darken with time. Most Black people I knew had some shift in their skin tone as babies. But as the weeks and then months passed, that didn’t happen. The brown-skinned, kinky-haired Luna of my daydreams didn’t exist. Real-life Luna is pale-skinned with gray/hazel eyes and loosely curly blondish-brown hair. (Hair that eventually grew in after what I affectionately call her “Bernie Sanders phase”). 

My mom told me if I wanted a Black baby, I should have married a Black man. I married the man I love and who loves me in equal measure. But that didn’t ease my inner turmoil. I looked at Luna and saw my husband. I didn’t see me in my child. I felt othered in my own house, a feeling I had fought my whole life.

Growing up, I struggled to feel comfortable in my own skin. In a family of headstrong, assertive Black women, I wasn’t any of that. I was always quiet and sensitive. Content to hide away with a book or lock away in my bedroom with a Sailor Moon marathon. At times I looked at my Blackness as something I wanted to outrun. I thought if I were anything other than Black, people wouldn’t make fun of me for liking anime or loving rock music. Back then I thought I didn’t fit in because I wasn’t white.

It wasn’t until college when a professor commented that I should embrace my own culture that I was able to open my eyes to a lifetime of consciously and unconsciously equating Blackness with badness. I was “weird,” I was “different,” but I still was, and always would be, Black.

Luna at 1 year old.

I opened myself to loving my race, loving my identity, loving a massive part of me. I thought I had laid that internal struggle to bed until I gave birth to Luna.

We live in a midsized, liberal dot of a city in the mitten state that’s not Detroit. Interracial relationships are common, but a Black woman with a white man less so. Funny looks and snide comments can be a dime a dozen, but they become something you ignore. I had to talk my husband down the first time we got an insulting comment from a Black man. Together we learned to laugh about it. 

That effortless ability to brush off raised eyebrows evaporated after I gave birth. The hyper-awareness of being out with my own child churned anxiety in my chest. Double takes and lingering stares became commonplace. I caught myself saying “Mommy loves you,” with extra emphasis on Mommy. I am Luna’s Mommy, and I wanted random people to know she grew inside of me even if she didn’t look like it. 

During my pregnancy, I read articles and first-person accounts of people accusing parents of kidnapping their mixed-race kids. Those stories haunted me. I openly expressed those thoughts to my husband, who did his best to reassure me. When we would go out together, I used his whiteness as a shield. In my mind, he protected us from these things. But he wouldn’t always be there, and I hated that fact.

My mom took Luna and me grocery shopping one day. As we were masking up and getting Luna in the shopping cart, an older white man kept staring at us. I mentioned his gawking to my mom, who at first brushed it off. In the store, as we walked the aisles to find what I needed for my first attempt at white chicken chili, the same white guy kept staring at us. Anytime we were in an aisle near him, he kept an eye on us. My mom wanted to yell at him, but I talked her down. This was our reality, and that fact made my heart ache.

Both of us at 1 year old.

Luna, however, is unfazed by these things. She looks at the world with the bright optimism that only a baby can. My husband and I look at her and see the smartest, funniest, prettiest baby in the whole world. I know that in the future we will have to have conversations about her identity and the color of her skin. We will tackle those issues head on. Telling her she is both Black and white, she can be both, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. 

One evening I dug through some old boxes of my stuff looking for something when I came across some of my baby pictures. I almost cried. That little girl is my daughter. There was no mistaking it. Right down to the chubby cheeks and the gap in her teeth. 

Excitedly, I shoved the Polaroid at my husband, exclaiming, “That’s Luna!” With a chuckle, he agreed. I picked up Luna and held her close. I saw it. For the first time I saw me in my daughter. Luna’s face is my face.

This article first appeared on HuffPost Personal

Letha Byrd 2021-01-21
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