A recently resurfaced interview featuring writer Toni Morrison with Australian journalist Jana Wendt has gone viral.
The original clip was shared 16,000 retweets and attracted 44,000 likes.
In the clip, Morrison states she wanted to feel free to not have the white gaze in her work, which predominantly features African American characters.
“You don’t think you’ll ever change and incorporate books with white lives in them substantially?” Wendt asks.
The query is met with a forceful rejoinder from Morrison.
"You can’t understand how powerfully racist that question is can you? Because you can never ask a white author, 'when are you going to write about black people'... even the inquiry comes from a place of being in the centre," Morrison responds coolly.
"And being used to being in the centre," Wendt gracefully backtracks, nodding apologetically.
"It’s inconceivable that where I already am is the mainstream," Morrison ends.
The clip was lauded on Twitter in birthday tributes to Morrison who turns 88 today.
"This clip. This woman. My goodness. I’ve been asked this question OFTEN. She answers directly and clearly. Sending beautiful energy and wishes to Queen Toni Morrison on the day of her birth," tweeted director Ava DuVernay.
Morrison made history as the first African-American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1993.
She is the author of a celebrated canon chronicling modern America and the legacy of slavery including The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977) and Beloved (1987).