Last Thursday I started my morning routine as usual. I sat down to breakfast with the Times-Picayune splayed across the table, hoping to read of black-and-gold glory. Instead, I landed on a front-page heartbreaker. Turning away from my food in disgust, I centered on an article about a double murder on France Street. I read about one victim’s mother, Debra Gillmore, and her desperate plea to onlookers who gathered as authorities carted away her son’s lifeless body. “Stealing and murdering –– for what?” she asked them. “Black-on-black crime for nothing.”

In case you haven’t noticed for the past few weeks, alongside every Saints headline, there’s been yet another story about yet another senseless killing. Another story of a 20-something young black male killed by another 20-something young black male. Something’s gotta give.

Murder headlines are what we’ve grown accustomed to –– if not entirely desensitized to. It’s a fact of life here, one of the primary things that we’re told to expect and ignore, so long as said murders do not occur in our own backyard or to a loved one.

Sorry to get all somber on you, especially with the city riding high off the Saints epic Super Bowl win and Landrieu’s unprecedented mayoral victory. But something continues to haunt me about Debra Gillmore’s reality and that of many other women who continue to lose their children to murders or jail.

In Landrieu’s acceptance speech on Saturday, he shouted his campaign slogan over and over as the crowd joined in, repeating each phrase several times until it trailed off into a “Who Dat” chant: “One team. One fight. One voice. One city.” The mantra captures the current pulse of the city perfectly. Everyone’s keyed up; everyone’s optimistic. The city is unified. So let’s keep it that way, and keep our eyes on the prize.

In one short season, New Orleans has garnered the respect of millions of Americans and entered the national stage again — this time in a more glowing light. But the sobering reality is that when the cameras go away and the lights are dimmed, the unsavory aspects of the city, namely crime, still remain.

Mayor-elect Landrieu promises to tackle crime and has pegged it his top priority. We need to hold him to that promise. We need to make sure that “tackling the issue” doesn’t just come in the form of installing a new police chief. More effective law enforcement is just one component in the gumbo of complex issues that need to be addressed. The city needs total reform and total light shed on the structural problems that seed the issues of crime, poverty, unemployment and education. And we all need to have the courage to ask the tough questions and fight the tough battles that lie ahead, no matter how ugly they seem.

It’s too reductionist to just assume that these issues are irresolvable and that wayward youth in certain areas of the city are irredeemable. Somewhere, roaming around the supposed wastelands of this great city, there are youth waiting for the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills to become the next Irvin Mayfield … the next Robin Roberts … heck, the next Barack Obama.

I don’t mean to be a party-spoiler, especially with so much positivity breaching the levees here. I just want to make sure we stay focused and united in order to tackle these longstanding issues, together.

Dissenters who pass themselves off as “realists” say it’s not possible to accomplish everything on the “rebuild New Orleans stronger and better” agenda. I say they’re wrong. We can do it all, and we can do it together.

One team. One fight. One voice. One city.