Buppies are members of the black middle class. The term appears to have originated in South Africa after apartheid, and it has since spread to other regions of the world, perhaps most notably into the United States. Like other demographic groups, buppies can be a fruitful avenue of study for sociologists and anthropologists, and they are also of interest to advertising agencies and companies which wish to expand their market share.
The origins of the word “buppie” are similar to those behind the closely related idea of the yuppie. “Buppie” can stand either for “black urban professional” or “black upwardly-mobile professional.” Buppies may be male or female, and they are characterized by their middle class status. Many are also considered upwardly mobile, meaning that they are working their way through the social classes, or that they have worked their way into the middle class.
In the United States, blacks didn't have many opportunities until the 1960s, when the growing civil rights movement made it much easier for blacks to go to college and get well-paying jobs. While individual blacks were certainly quite successful before the 1960s, the civil rights movement birthed a growing black middle class, as American blacks struggled to achieve the same social status enjoyed by many of the white around them. Similar circumstances held true in South Africa until the 1990s, when apartheid finally collapsed.
The rise of the black middle class caused some major cultural, political, and economic shifts in the United States and South Africa. As blacks began to enjoy more economic power and autonomy, many made a conscious choice to support black-owned businesses, or black-friendly businesses, feeding the addition of even more people to the black middle class. A growing desire for black-friendly businesses also created more diversity and consciousness in the business world, as companies fought to capture the black market.
Technically, many buppies could also be considered yuppies, but the tern “buppie” is often used specifically when discussing the black middle class and the topics which surround it. The growing interest in black culture among members of the white community has sometimes been attributed to the buppies, for example, with sociologists suggesting that as the black middle class rose, it put black cultural traditions and values in the public eye. Buppies can also have tremendous economic and political clout when they band together, which can have an interesting effect on local politics.