Why does a given oppressed group sometimes revolt and take to the streets, while other times it does not? This is a question that is never easy to answer. It requires a detailed examination of its history in a given context (here, France), the conditions and means for self-organization, the forms resistance takes, the struggles for hegemony within this social group to impose a group definition, what should comprise its struggle for emancipation. This article is an attempt to question how the revolt against slavery in Libya, after its presentation in a CNN video, was politicized by black people in the French context. We pay attention to the fact that the outrage exceeded frontiers of political organization and took the form of a mass revolt, under the “black” banner. But it has also shown limits in terms of translating this indignation into a political project of emancipation. To our understanding, those limits take root in the weakness of materialist analysis of race and migration as historical processes within a capitalist system, which cannot be understood solely in terms of ideology.

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