Ellen DeGeneres has hit back at racism claims following a backlash over a meme she posted featuring Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

Earlier this week, the popular daytime TV host jumped on the Olympic icon's bandwagon after his impressive win, photoshopping herself riding Bolt's back in the now-famous image of him smiling as he sprints toward the gold medal in the 100-metre race at Rio.

She captioned it: "This is how I'm running errands from now on."

Many people accused the image of being racially insensitive.

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One replied: "If I ignored US history & current climate of police lynching us, this "joke" would be hilarious."

Another called it "racist garbage".

DeGeneres quickly hit back to defend herself.

The 58-year-old tweeted: "I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am."

This isn't the first time the host has landed in hot water over what's been labelled a tone-deaf joke.

Last year, in a parody of Nicki Minaj's new sitcom, DeGeneres aired a sketch on Ellen showing a black family whose backsides were so ridiculously enlarged that they got in the way of everything - even just sitting down to watch TV.