Ray Lewis says he's 1000% behind Colin Kaepernick's protest for social justice ... but when it comes to making change it's gonna take more than kneeling to uplift black Americans.

Lewis co-hosted the "TMZ Sports" TV show and got more in-depth then ever on his feelings on Kaep's stand -- and what he thinks needs to be done to make actual change in the black community.

"Kaep, I applaud you, but I am a solutions-based person. If you don't have solutions from a protest then it remains a protest."

So, what's Ray's solution to social injustice? Jobs. He heads up an organization aimed at job creation in inner city areas ... which he says is the key to ending the cycle of disenfranchisement in the hood.