When I read Toya Wright’s debut book Priceless Inspirations in 2011, I immediately noted her as a woman I wanted to meet. My heart went out to her after learning that she survived a troubled childhood in New Orleans when her parents, both drug addicts at some point in their lives, abandoned her and a litter of siblings. Her book and reality television show with Tameka ‘Tiny’ Harris — Tiny & Toya — made her real, hence my referring to her as Toya throughout this piece.
When she found love and married music producer Mickey Wright, known as MempHitz, a few years later, I cried with her. Finally, after surviving mass infidelity from ex-husband and rapper Lil Wayne, I thought my girl’s gonna live happily ever after in love, happiness and more babies. She deserved that love and seeing her grab it made me hopeful for it, too.
Then, just one year later, shit hit the proverbial fan, causing a scandal that follows the couple to this day.
Singer K. Michelle publicly accused MempHitz of physically abusing her in their previous relationship on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop Atlanta. While trying to balance life as a new husband and step father to Toya’s daughter in the public eye, MempHitz’s successful career and character derailed. In my mind, this is when Toya felt sorry enough for her husband to allow him “8 hall passes a year” to cheat on her as revealed on Bravo’s new show Untying the Knot.
The now separated couple talked about the pitfalls of their marriage with divorce attorney Vikki Ziegler on Sunday’s debut episode.
Vikki asked Memphitz if he cheats on Toya and his response was, “No, not without a hall pass.” She asked if Toya was allowed the same privileges and he boasted, “Shitting me! She’s a woman. She’s a girl. What I’m saying is — men, we’re built a little different than you.” Now would be a good time to note that MempHitz blames Toya for his life’s downward spiral, too.
Vikki was shocked, Toya was embarrassed and I alternated between anger and sadness. How could someone so beautiful, intelligent and promising be misguided enough to let their husband cheat on them? Is Toya so used to being dogged by men that this is the only alternative that feels right? Does knowing that he used a hall pass hurt her feelings or make her feel second best? Does she explain these things to her daughter and younger sister?
Priceless Inspirations symbolized a way out of hurt, shame and sadness for me.
By telling her story, she built an online community helping thousands of Black women who’ve suffered for the sake of love to heal. I admired that and the way she’d used that platform to step into entrepreneurship. I remember thinking that if this woman could be brave and confident enough to share her pain with the world, so could I. When she got married, I remember thinking that if she could still find true love after enduring so much, so could I. When it seemed like she and Memphitz were weathering the K. Michelle storm, I said that if she’d be ride or die, so could I. But now after defying so many odds in life, love and goals, Toya is settling when she no longer has to. I want to ride with her, but this time I can’t.
Do Black women feel like they have to prove themselves to their men in order to be worthy? Why do some of us still feel the need to defy our hearts for the sake of keeping a man? A study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology says the fear of being single drives adults to stay in bad relationships or settle for less-than-worthy partners to avoid being alone.
The researchers first set out to establish whether fear of loneliness was a common occurrence. Of 153 participants in one study, 40 percent said they feared not having a long-term companion, 18 percent said they feared ‘spinsterhood,’ 12 percent feared losing a current partner, 11 percent feared growing old alone, 7 percent feared never having children and a family, 7 percent said they’d feel worthless if alone, 4 percent feared negative judgements from others and 0.7 percent said any relationship (even if horrible) was better than none.
The Wrights have made it clear that they don’t want a divorce; though Toya refuses to compromise, Memphitz proposes that the couple remain married in separate households for the time being. I’m not sure what will come of the Wright’s household and more importantly, Toya’s self-esteem. She told Wendy Williams that she expressed her pain by writing a new book called How To Lose A Husband. My only hope is that she grabs hold of what self-worth and dignity she still has and moves on with her life — with or without Mickey Wright.
The debut episode of Untying the Knot aired on Sunday at 10 p.m. EST on Bravo. The show will move to its regularly scheduled time slot starting on Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 10 p.m. EST on Bravo!
Ariel C. Williams is the author of The Girl Talk Chronicles and Editor-in-Chief of Slay Culture. She’s on Twitter as @ArielSaysNow.